Prunes

 Prunes Key facts Prunes have a reputation for their laxative effect, but if you can see past this, they are an excellent fruit in cooking either for salads or in braised dishes and casseroles, as they add plenty of flavour and fibre.
After the plum harvest come the prunes especially, as far as we are concerned, those made in the juicy style of South West France. There the plums are gently dried until they are done enough to keep but still juicy and tender enough to eat without soaking. This technique is associated with the region around Agen, hence the name Pruneaux d'Agen. They are used in Apple, Prune and Armagnac Clafoutis and you can usually find them in delicatessens; supermarkets are more likely to have the Californian equivalent which is called a ready-to-eat prune.

The really wrinkly (and to us older) kind of prune is cheaper and keeps for ages in a storage jar but cannot compare for richness of flavour.
 
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Christmas Chutney

This is so-named because it is made with dried fruits, which I always associate with Christmas: prunes, dates and apricots. It's dark, spicy and delicious with cold cuts, pork pies or hot sausages – and it goes splendidly with matured Cheddar.

 
 
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