what is a prune

prune is a dried plum, most commonly from the European plum (Prunus domestica). Not all plum species or varieties can be dried into prunes.[1] A prune is the firm-fleshed fruit (plum) of Prunus domestica varieties that have a high soluble solids content, and does not ferment during drying.[2] Use of the term “prune” for fresh plums is obsolete except when applied to varieties of plum grown for drying.[3]

Most prunes are freestone cultivars (the pit is easy to remove), whereas most plums grown for fresh consumption are clingstone (the pit is more difficult to remove).

Prunes are 64% carbohydrates including dietary fiber, 2% protein, a rich source of vitamin K, and a moderate source of B vitamins and dietary minerals. The sorbitol content of dietary fiber likely provides the laxative effect associated with consuming prunes. Contrary to the name, boiled plums or prunes are not used to make sugar plums.


More than 1,000 plum cultivars are grown for drying. The main cultivar grown in the United States is the ‘Improved French’ prune. Other varieties include ‘Sutter’, ‘Tulare Giant’, ‘Moyer’, ‘Imperial’, ‘Italian’, and greengages. Fresh prunes reach the market earlier than fresh plums and are usually smaller in size. The great majority of commercially grown prune varieties are self-fertile and do not need separate pollinator trees.[4]

Name change[edit]

In 2001, plum growers in the United States were authorized by the Food and Drug Administration to call prunes “dried plums”.[5] Due to a perception that prunes relieve constipation (perceived as derogatory), some distributors stopped using the word “prune” on packaging labels in favor of “dried plums”.[6]

Health effects[edit]

Prunes contain dietary fiber (about 7% of weight; table) which may provide laxative effects.[7] Their sorbitol content may also be responsible for this, a conclusion reached in a 2012 review by the European Food Safety Authority. The report also demonstrated that prunes effectively contribute to the maintenance of normal bowel function in the general population if consumed in quantities of at least 100 grams (3.5 oz) per day.[8]


Prunes are 31% water, 64% carbohydrates, including 7% dietary fiber, 2% protein, and less than 1% fat (table). Prunes are a moderate source of vitamin K (57% of the Daily Value, DV) and a moderate source of several B vitamins and dietary minerals (4-16% DV; table).


Prunes and prune juice contain phytochemicals, including phenolic compounds (mainly as neochlorogenic acids and chlorogenic acids) and sorbitol.[7]


Russianprunes in chocolate with an almond in the middle

Prunes are used in preparing both sweet and savory dishes.[8]

Contrary to the name, boiled plums or prunes are not used to make sugar plums, which instead may be nuts, seeds, or spices coated with hard sugar, also called comfits.[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Growing Prunes (Dried Plums) in California: An Overview. UCANR Publications. 2007. ISBN 978-1-60107-486-7.
  2. ^ Richard P. Buchner (16 May 2012). Prune Production Manual. UCANR Publications. pp. 75–. ISBN 978-1-60107-702-8.
  3. ^ “Dehydrated Prunes Grades and Standards”. Agricultural Marketing Service, US Department of Agriculture. 2017. Retrieved 15 May 2017.
  4. ^ Growing Prunes (Dried Plums) in California: An Overview. UCANR Publications. 2007. pp. 2–. ISBN 978-1-60107-486-7.
  5. ^ “FDA Approves Prune Name Change”. ABC News. 6 January 2006. Retrieved 14 July 2016.
  6. ^ Janick, Jules and Robert E. Paull (2008). The Encyclopedia of Fruit and Nuts. CABI. ISBN 0-85199-638-8. p. 696.
  7. Jump up to:a b Stacewicz-Sapuntzakis, M; Bowen, PE; Hussain, EA; Damayanti-Wood, BI; Farnsworth, NR (2001). “Chemical composition and potential health effects of prunes: a functional food?”. Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition41 (4): 251–86. doi:10.1080/20014091091814PMID 11401245S2CID 31159565.
  8. Jump up to:a b EFSA Panel on Dietetic Products, Nutrition and Allergies (NDA) (2012). “Scientific Opinion on the substantiation of health claims related to dried plums of ‘prune’ cultivars (Prunus domestica L.) and maintenance of normal bowel function (ID 1164, further assessment) pursuant to Article 13(1) of Regulation (EC) No 1924/2006”EFSA Journal10 (6): 2712. doi:10.2903/j.efsa.2012.2712.
  9. ^ Kawash, Samira (22 December 2010). “Sugar Plums: They’re Not What You Think They Are”The Atlantic. Retrieved 13 July 2017.

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