Do you have a surplus of plums and need something tasty to do with them? Damson-type plums make the best prunes because they’re dry and their taste is just divine, sweet with just a tiny tang. However, you can use any plum you have on hand and in a few easy steps, you’ll have a big batch of healthy, delicious prunes. Don’t let the harvest pass you by – make your own prunes!
Are you a DIY fan and love to MYO in your home and on your homestead? Be sure to check out our book, The Do It Yourself Homestead! With eight chapters on as many topics and over 400 pages of homesteading instruction, there’s sure to be something here for you. If it’s kitchen tips you’re interested in, be sure to send me an email at Tessa@homesteadlady.com for a free sample of The Homestead Kitchen chapter.
Why Make Your Own Prunes?
Rich in vitamins, minerals, fiber and even protein, prunes are a healthy snack for both you and your kids. Learning to make your own prunes isn’t difficult – even the kids can help with it. If you happen to have plum trees, you may enjoy bumper crops that you’re hard pressed to use up.
After all how many raw plums and batches of plum jam can a person eat?! Well, a lot really, since both are tasty, but even so….
In seven easy steps you can preserve those plums by learning to make your own prunes! Having freshly preserved fruits and veggies in your food storage can really give you a nutritional boost throughout the year. They’re also a tasty break from rice and beans, beans and rice, rice and beans – am I right?
How to Make Your Own Prunes
- Make sure you have a good crew of helpers on hand! Seriously, this is so easy that your kids can help you – make some memories with this DIY task.
- Prepare your dehydrator by making sure your rack are clean and ready to go. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can also use your oven on its lowest setting. Be sure to prepare your baking sheets with parchment paper or a very light coating of quality oil. A solar oven can also be used for making prunes if it is properly vented. Clean the solar oven thoroughly (why is my solar oven always so filthy?!) and prepare baking sheets accordingly.
- Use only ripe, firm plums. Italian prune plums are best because their water content is lower than others, but you could try this with any plum. Wash them off lightly and get out the cutting board and a good knife.
- Slice each plum in half, removing the pit.
- Place your thumb in the back of one half of plum (on the outside) and push firmly, making the plum half invert. This helps them dry quicker (a trick I learned from a wise neighbor).
- Place each inverted plum half backside down on your racks or cookie sheets. Fill each rack fully without overlapping the plums or allowing them to touch.
- Dehydrate – see tips below
Tips for Making Your Own Prunes
- I make sure to dry my prunes only until the water leaves their skins and fleshy parts since I like my prunes to stay chewy. this usually takes 8-12 hours where I live using the electric dehydrator. These can be preserved at a “raw foods” setting in your dehydrator, if you’d prefer. (The oven and solar oven are not flexible with temperatures, FYI.)
- As I said, you can dehydrate these in your oven, too, just set it as low as it will go and be prepared watch them like a hawk. Over-drying will result in “plum chips” – hmm, that might be good.
- If you have any concern that your prunes may not be completely dry, store your softer batches in the fridge and eat them inside a month. It’s a fine line between still wet and just soft, so do your best to judge and just keep practicing until you get a feel for it.
- You can also vent the lid of your solar oven and dry your prunes in there – here’s a post on how we did that with apples.
- Store in an air tight container and enjoy throughout the year!
Things to Do With Homemade Prunes
Apart from the obvious, eating them out of hand as a snack or trail food, there are several things you can do to integrate prunes into your diet.
- Use them as a gentle, natural laxative for you and your kiddos.
- Purposefully over-dry a batch so that they’re a little crispy and blend them to a powder. You can then add water to make an easy baby food. I also sometimes simmer the softer prunes in some filtered water and then pop them into my Vitamix for a spin; this make them a great meal for baby.
- Chop the prunes and add them to any recipe that calls for raisins or dried cherries. We enjoyed them immensely in our oatmeal and Healthy Kid’s Trail Mix – click here for that recipe.
What about you? Are you a fan of prunes? Or is that food only your grandma eats? I tell you the older I get…
If you decide prunes aren’t your thing, try this post to learn How To Make Your Own Raisins!
Don’t forget to email me for that free sample from The Do It Yourself Homestead! We hope the book will be of use to you, but don’t just take our word for it. Here’s what author and farmer Forrest Pritchard had to say about the book:
*Cover graphic gratefully attributed to this Wikimedia Commons user.