Mention raisins to anyone and they may tell you that they're good in oatmeal cookies and end the conversation there. Mention another dried fruit - prunes - and be prepared for grimaces. Yet these two kitchen classics can be made into variety of different and tasty dishes. They're not just for the over eighty set.
Prunes are nothing more than dried plums. In fact in 2001, the government authorized plum growers to call them that as a way to get the public to eat more of them. This was to change the way we look at them, as being the only way to stop constipation,Yes they do have mild laxative properties but that's only one aspect. Prunes also contain much needed dietary fiber. They also have high antioxidant content. They do have a down side namely in the phytohemical acrylamide, a known neurotoxin however the amount is just a trace. What can be done with prunes?Older chefs, both home and professional will say turn them into whips.Prune whip is one of the easiest desserts to make. It can be made with a meringue or whipped cream. Basically it cooking the prunes, reserving the juice and then mixing the two with the cream or egg whites. Prunes can also be steeped with Armagnac brandy Surprisingly enough black tea is used in the steeping process.Orange zest and cinnamon sticks. Diced prunes can also be a main ingredient in spice cookies as well as in cakes. A fun dessert is diced or whole prunes dipped in dark chocolate.The last actually makes for a fun gift or nice holiday candy.
Another dried fruit that brings about funny faces are raisins. Many people only like them on their own instead of in breads and cookies. Yet these dried grapes are chock full of antioxidants and make a good snack (Pet parents beware, they can cause renal failure in dogs) Currents are a form of raisin , usually a smaller variety such as the Black Zante. This kind have been around since ancient times, even written about by Pliny the Elder. Raisins are classified by grades in four categories in the US. Grade A is the best. The color is good , with it coming from well matured grapes that contain less than eighty per cent water. Grade B still has good color and flavor but has at least seventy percent water while grade C raisins are fairly good with only fifty-five percent water. Those that fail C grade are then classified as substandard. Raisins have been used mostly for desserts, notably in bread puddings and oatmeal cookies however they're excellent in savory dishes too. They add color and sweetness to rice pilafs and tangines. Some home chefs put them in carrot salads for dash and flavor while others make them an important ingredient in both chicken and turkey salads.They go well with pork, bringing out the meat's flavor.
Raisins and prunes are not just for grannies. They fun ingredients to be made into a variety of different savory and sweet dishes. Get over the prejudice and tried them. You'll be surprised.at how fresh these wrinkled fruits can be.