Familiar with the Agen prunes? Top chef-quality fruit and veg wholesaler Natoora is always on the hunt for la crème de la crème, working closely with small growers to support sustainable agriculture. When it comes to these dried plums, there’s only one place to find them!
A bit of history
Prunes are dried Ente plums, which have been around the Mediterranean basin for quite a while now. Hailing from China along the Silk Road, the Romans planted the first varieties near Agen. The Damas plums from Syria still grown today were first grafted in South-West France in the 12th century, and became known as Ente plums.
As they keep forever and are highly nutritious, they’ve always been a staple at sea, to see the sailors through long journeys. Many of them being from Brittany, rumour has it that’s how the famous far breton cake was born!
What you need to know
Protected since 2002, the one-and-only Agen prunes must be produced in a precisely defined area of South-West France (Lot-et-Garonne, Dordogne, Gironde, Tarn-et-Garonne, Gers and Lot), following very strict rules, to ensure high quality and traceability. Don’t be fooled by copycats, always look out for the PGI (Protected Geographical Indication) European label.
4,000 tons are produced on average every year in France, 96% of which are within the PGI Agen prune area. The Agen prunes are sometimes deemed old school, but The French get it! Only 30% of their superfood delicacies make it abroad.
From plum to prunes
A delicate variety, the Ente plum flourishes under a sunny climate: South-West France is the ideal place for that! Natoora’s grower harvests perfectly ripe plums in August, at the peak of their natural sweetness. They are then washed and dried for twenty hours, to concentrate the flavours in a totally natural process — no dye or preservatives are used. Their stone is left to preserve their flavour and texture.
How they’re sourced
Natoora’s Agen prunes come direct from Veri’Good by the Verine brothers, a family business since 1957, near Toulouse. Their South-facing orchards with a clay-limestone soil are perfect for growing plums with minimal intervention, protecting them from winter frosts. The whole process then happens on the farm, to ensure the best quality control possible.
How to serve them
Packed with vitamins, fibres and minerals, Agen prunes are renowned for their digestive benefits and make the perfect all-day healthy snack.
The Natoora team likes theirs poached in Earl grey syrup and served with Greek yoghurt.
We bake them into a sticky toffee pudding, but not as you know it! Try out our deliciously moist Agen prunes pudding recipe.
How to store them
You can keep them around almost indefinitely! To lock in the moisture, keeping them in an air-tight container at the bottom of the fridge is a good call. But don’t worry if they dry out, you can just bring back their soft texture by simmering them in water for a bit.
Where to find them?
Best news is, no need to be a chef to order from Natoora! There are plenty of options out there to stock up on their incredible produce: online via their app or Ocado, in their London stores or in select Whole Foods and Waitrose branches.