Make Ahead

Pickled Prunes

January 31, 2011
2 Ratings
  • Makes about 3 cups
Author Notes

I was looking for a recipe for quick pickled onions last time I made pulled pork sandwiches, and stumbled across this article: I found the idea of pickled prunes intriguing so decided to give it a whirl. I didn't want to use bay or pickling spice so used a mix of cardamom, pink peppercorns, and coriander instead. I also added some freshly squeezed orange juice & orange blossom water to amp up the citrus notes of the orange zest and spices. I think these may be the best tasting prunes I've ever had. These taste best after a minimum of 8 hours in the fridge, and should last for 2 weeks. (NB: the whole spices will cling to the prunes, and I enjoy eating them as they are like little flavor explosions. If you are averse to this you could coarsely grind them.) - hardlikearmour —hardlikearmour

Test Kitchen Notes

Once we started to list the ways we could imagine these prunes being served, we had trouble stopping: these sweet, sour and spiced bites would be excellent with a dollop of mascarpone or over ice cream, as a salad component or with oatmeal, or as an accompaniment to cheese or roast pork. The list goes on. In just 20 short minutes, the prunes plump up and absorb the tang of the vinegar and the sweetness of the sugar, and leaving the spices whole means you get little pops of flavor as you savor the fruit. You can reduce the syrup if you like before adding the orange flower water -- we kept it as is. - A&M —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 12 2-inch strips orange peel (pith is okay here)
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cardamom seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink peppercorns
  • 1/2 3" stick cinnamon, broken in half
  • 1 pound pitted prunes
  • 2 teaspoons orange blossom water
  1. Combine vinegar, orange peel and juice, sugar and spices in medium-sized saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once it's at a boil, add the prunes and decrease heat to medium-low. Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until soft, but not falling apart.
  2. Remove the prunes & orange peel to quart jar (or other suitable container) using a slotted spoon. If you like, return the syrup to the heat, and reduce for several minutes until fairly thick. Stir in the orange blossom water. Pour the syrup over the prunes, stir to mix well and cool to room temperature. Once cool, cover and refrigerate.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Midge
  • LeBec Fin
    LeBec Fin
  • mrslarkin
  • nannydeb
  • BoulderGalinTokyo
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.

143 Reviews

RaRa November 26, 2022
Thanks for a great recipe! I have recently used this brine for figs and persimmons as well as prunes, delicious! Star anise also is a great spice add.
Kerry G. May 14, 2016
...and, because I liked the acidity the vinegar provided, plus the lovely sweet citrus imparted by the orange, I was inspired to make a mixed up version of prunes in brandy. I simmered prunes in brandy, freshly squeezed orange juice, sugar, pinch of salt, one vanilla bean, and a dollop of orange marmalade until sauce syrupy and prunes very soft. Removed from heat and added a splash of sherry vinegar. The vinegar is key!
Kerry G. February 10, 2016
Delicious and so easy. I didn't have pink peppercorns so I omitted. Really, really yummy with lightly sweetened goat cheese followed with a chaser slice of cold crisp apple (and repeat...and repeat...) ;-)
Midge April 17, 2013
I'm with mrslarkin. Total winner material.
hardlikearmour April 17, 2013
Thanks, Midge. I confess this is one of my favorite recipes (of my own recipes at least)!
fiveandspice April 18, 2013
Truth! These guys are ah-mazing.
hardlikearmour April 18, 2013
LeBec F. April 17, 2013
This is terrific and has my brain zipping around like Tinkerbelle- trying to think of various uses.......... Thinking about balsamic and strwberrries so maybe strawberries mixed w/ it(cut up) and topped with a dollop of mascarpone? And then what about pairing them w/ foie gras or pork pate ravs>> Foie Gras Ravs tossed w/ sauteed jerusalem artichoke matchsticks and a little minced pickled prunes.... or Peking Ravs stuffed with French country pork pate and dressed wth tamari and a little pickled prunes.....It reminds me of a similarly spiced strudel filling i do where the prunes are steeped in tea.... so i wonder how these pickles would taste if tea leaves were included (and then removed after the simmering.) What do you think? How fun! I think my go-to use would be served with a country pork or duck pate. How inspiring these prunes are!
hardlikearmour April 17, 2013
Glad they could inspire you. There's a recipe for Danish Pickled Prunes in Diana Henry's book, Salt Sugar Smoke, that plumps the prunes in tea before pickling them.
LeBec F. April 17, 2013
wow! do you know that because you do a lot of recipe research or is that just serendipitously found knowledge?!and more important, what do YOU think about that flavor combo? thx.
hardlikearmour April 17, 2013
Just luck. I happened to buy the book after the recent Piglet review. I imagine tea would go well with the prunes.
mrslarkin April 16, 2013
this needs to win, already. :)
hardlikearmour April 16, 2013
Thanks, mrsL! From your mouth to the editors ears ;-)
nannydeb February 23, 2012
I FINALLY got around to making these and they're delicious! I'm wondering if after the liquid is reduced, do you think I could can them for Christmas presents? I know lots of prune lovers.
hardlikearmour February 23, 2012
Yes, but you need to make more liquid. Abbie and I discussed it earlier this year via e-mail so I'll find the thread and forward it to you.
Molli D. October 25, 2020
Hello——-made these and everyone absolutely loved the flavor!
Now my friends are “suggesting” a jar for Christmas—could you please provide a canning method?
BoulderGalinTokyo February 8, 2012
Just made these for the first time and they were wonderful- such an explosion of flavor! My hubby won't let me make anything unless I reduce the sugar content. I used a liquid sweetner, only half a cup, and still the syrup was thick and delicious. Also sub 12 kumquats because that's what I had, and they were great too.
Thank you so much!
hardlikearmour February 8, 2012
Ooohh.... I love the idea of kumquats sliced up in this! I'm thrilled you tried them and enjoyed them!
JuliaB January 16, 2012
Just made my first batch of these little gems, substituting Jerez sherry vinegar, grains of paradise pepper and Meyer lemon peel (which was so lovely to chew on afterwards!). Thank you for such a lovely recipe!
hardlikearmour January 17, 2012
I'm glad you enjoyed them, and your substitutions sound delicious! I love Meyer lemon and grains of paradise.
giuliettanicoletta January 11, 2012
Another converted household chiming in! The first batch disappeared immediately; this will now be something I keep on hand at all times if I can possibly help it. (I can relate to aargersi's habit of eating them right out of the jar.) Thank you, HLA!
hardlikearmour January 11, 2012
Hooray! I love to convert the anti-prune crowd!
gingerroot November 26, 2011
These are amazing, hardlikearmour! They have been on my must-try list since you posted them, and I totally regret not making them sooner. I especially love the bites with the peppercorn. So far my favorite way to eat them is to spread a toasted baguette slice with a mild blue cheese and then top it with a prune and a drizzle of syrup. So delicious!!
hardlikearmour November 26, 2011
I'm glad you tried them, and your serving suggestion sounds amazing!
aargersi December 5, 2011
Oh I love that - I have a batch of them and I have just been eating them straight out the jar whenever I walk by the fridge!!!!
TheWimpyVegetarian November 26, 2011
I'm making these tomorrow! I can't wait!! Hope you had a great Thanksgiving, HLA!
hardlikearmour November 26, 2011
Thanks, CS! I did have a great Thanksgiving! I hope you enjoy the prunes.
TheWimpyVegetarian November 27, 2011
They were sooooo good!! Thanks for a great recipe!!
My P. November 23, 2011
I am making a batch of these right now and the whole house smells amazing!
hardlikearmour November 25, 2011
I love aroma, too!
AntoniaJames November 5, 2011
Had these today at a food52 potluck. Sensational!! Thinking maybe some of my very special friends might be receiving these for the holidays. Just amazing. ;o)
hardlikearmour November 6, 2011
Thank you, AJ! I'm thrilled you enjoyed them, and wish I could've been at the potluck with you - I bet it was a great one.
AntoniaJames November 6, 2011
Yes, it was sensational, in all respects. Hats off to TasteFood for hosting a truly magical potluck. Great people, great food . . . what you would expect from the FOOD52 community!! I'm going to make a mixed batch of these, using prunes and figs. I think the figs would add a nice dimension, especially in flavoring the syrup. I tend to find cardamom to be quite assertive -- I think it's one of those spices that speaks more loudly to some than others -- so I'm tempted to head these more in the direction of a Gibassier, with star anise and maybe just a few crushed cardamom seeds. Stay tuned! ;o)
hardlikearmour November 6, 2011
They were definitely spiced for the cardamom contest! I considered adding star anise when I first made them, but was worried it would become the predominant flavor. I'm sure it will be delicious with the orange and prunes and figs - definitely report back!
vvvanessa November 7, 2011
funny-- i was trying to write a shopping list for the prunes from memory, and i wrote down "star anise" before i realized the recipe doesn't use it. plums and star anise are one of my favorite flavor combinations, so i guess i was going on instinct : )
Bevi November 5, 2011
Hi HLA - I made these today and they are super delicious! I had white peppercorns, so I used a few of them. All the flavors are lovely together. I reduced the syrup and have the prunes percolating in the fridge. I am taking them to a dinner in a few days, to be served over homemade cognac ice cream. Thanks for a lovely recipe.
hardlikearmour November 5, 2011
Thanks, Bevi! Homemade cognac ice cream sounds fabulous, and I bet they will go quite nicely with it.
vvvanessa October 14, 2011
these are ridiculously good. emphasis on the ridiculously.
hardlikearmour October 14, 2011
Thanks, tripleV! It definitely exceeded my expectations when I first made it.
lapadia October 14, 2011
Just wanted to say that I am so glad to have had the opportunity to try these! My husband says he would like to try them w/o the pink peppercorns...will let you know when I try that :)
vvvanessa November 5, 2011
i'm whipping up my first batch this very moment! very exciting!
hardlikearmour November 5, 2011
stilllifewithwhisk October 5, 2011
I just can't get over how delicious these are. They are other-worldly good. What a fabulous recipe; they're now a house staple.
hardlikearmour October 5, 2011
Thank you! I think they are surprisingly delicious, and I'm glad you agree!
ladykave September 14, 2011
These are AMAZING. I must always keep a jar in the house at all times now. They're great on a cheese plate, cut up into salads, as a garnish for pork, duck, and chicken, and the sauce is delicious mixed into salad dressings or drizzled over ice cream. GENIUS.
hardlikearmour September 14, 2011
Thank you, ladykave! I'm glad you like them. I like the syrup in bubbly water with lemon juice as a soda, too.
fo July 1, 2011
geez this looks fantastic!
hardlikearmour July 1, 2011
thanks, frankieolives. I almost always have a jar in the fridge.
boulangere May 15, 2011
Midge, I'm so glad you commented on this. Somehow it had gotten past me. My mother grew up on a farm in Michigan, and used to tell of her mother making stewed prunes with cream skimmed from milk from their cows "because we were so poor". Many years later, guess what turned up on the dessert menu at Chez Panisse. This looks heavenly. I need a dessert for a Tuesday luncheon, and I've already got the gelato. Thank you!
hardlikearmour May 15, 2011
Let me know what you think, boulangere!