History of Prunes and Plums
The plum has been a part of the human diet for at least two thousand years. European plums originated in southern Europe; they were brought to the United States in the 17th century, where new varieties of plums developed. Japanese plums originated in China, although they were highly cultivated in Japan. The practice of making plums into prunes started in Western Asia, and then moved towards the west as the prune became a staple in parts of Europe. Today, the United States, Russia, China, and Romania are the largest plum producers. California is the world's biggest prune producer.
Along with peaches, nectarines, and almonds, plums are part of the Prunus genus of plants. They are characterized by large pits surrounded by rich, juicy fruit. Between European plums, Japanese plums, American plums, and Ornamental plums, there are over two thousand different types of plums. They come in an assortment of colors, from blue-black to yellow plums, with pink, green, or orange flesh.
Prunes are dried plums. They have a slightly different chemical composition from being sun-ripened and then dried. Prunes have a different mineral content and a higher percentage of fiber per serving. They are just as sweet as fresh plums, but with a sticky texture. Both are delicious fresh, or stewed. There are many benefits of eating both prunes and plums.