Let me remind us all that prunes are dried plums. Extolling their virtues as a remedy to afflictions not to be named here (this is a food blog after all) has ruined the culinary reputation of these fine dried fruits. Thankfully, Sally Schneider has come to the rescue restoring them to their rightful place. Her booze soaked approach to dried fruits is my favorite way to prepare them. I love her book, The Improvisational Cook. The binding is broken from use and the pages are sauce splattered as any good cookbook should be. It definitely pushes the casual cook to think differently and bring more whimsy to how a dish evolves or an element can be used.
I eat the bourbon prunes chopped up in my morning oatmeal with walnuts and apples, toss them in fruit salads, drizzle the syrup over ice cream or tuck them into cakes. I also eat them straight out of the jar for a little pick me up. I’m addicted to them. As per Sally’s suggestion, next time I make duck I’ll probably try to create a sauce with them.
Bourbon Soaked Prunes
from Sally Schneider, The Improvisational Cook
- 1 1/2 cups water
- 3-4 Tbsp sugar
- 1 vanilla bean
- 12 ozs pitted prunes
- 3/4 to 1 cup bourbon, brandy, cognac or anything you fancy trying
- Step 1 Combine water and sugar in a small non-reactive saucepan. Split vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds. Put seeds and bean in with water and sugar.
- Step 2 Bring the water mixture to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Add the prunes and reduce to a simmer for only 5 minutes. Do not boil! The fruit will become too soft and fall apart.
- Step 3 Transfer the prunes to a clean, dry jar and stir in 1/2-3/4 cups bourbon until the fruit is covered.
- Step 4 Let the prunes sit at room temperature for several days to cure. Store in the refrigerator.
- Step 5 Over time the strength of the alcohol diminishes so you you can stir a little more bourbon to taste. They will last indefinitely in the fridge but mine never last too long.