Wikimedia Commons

Wikimedia Commons

The Agen prune is a delectable type of prune known for its sweet taste and extremely beneficial health and nutritional qualities. It’s had Protected Geographic Indication (PGI) status since 2002 and is produced primarily in the Lot-et-Garonne département of France (southwest of France), but also in a few neighboring departments.

This map highlights the Lot-et-Garonne department in France, where most Agen prunes are made.

This map highlights the Lot-et-Garonne department in France, where most Agen prunes are made.

The climactic conditions and the terroir of Lot-et-Garonne and the surrounding areas make this part of southwest France a land of choice for growing prunes. Agen prunes are a delicate variety of fruit that require plenty of sunlight – and they truly blossom in the clay-limestone soils of this area, which help to give the prunes a unique, sweet taste and a high nutritional content.

Prune trees originally arrived from China via the Silk Road and were spread throughout the Mediterranean region by the ancient Greeks and Romans, thus dating back to antiquity. Prunes were known for their dietary, medical and nutritional virtues all the way back then.

The prunes that would come to be known as Agen prunes wouldn’t get their start until Benedictine monks returning from the Third Crusade in the late 1100s and early 1200s crossed prune trees they had taken from Syria with local prune trees to create what was called the Ente prune. Once the trees became established in well-adapted southwestern France, the future Agen prune was born. The result is a heavier prune with a more delicate flavor than standard prunes.

To protect the special personality this area provides Agen prunes, only prunes that have followed strict steps in production and that were grown, dried, conditioned and packaged in its zone of production can use the name “Agen prune.”

Frequently eaten as a snack, the Agen prune’s pleasantly sweet taste make it a versatile choice for use in a very large variety of dishes. Amuses-bouches, juices, desserts, marmalades, syrups, and even alcoholic beverages can all be made using these highly adaptable fruits.

Because of its intense concentration of beneficial nutrients like antioxidants, the Agen prune is considered a very healthy snack, and is even recommended by some doctors for its various health properties. It has particularly strong benefits for women (especially pregnant women), children, adolescents and seniors.

You can see what makes this special fruit with a long history so enjoyable by trying out this recipe:

Stuffed prune amuse-bouche with salmon

Ingredients:

4 slices of smoked salmon
2 slices of pineapple
10 Agen prunes
1 gram of saffron powder
Pepper
Toothpicks
For the cream:
1 teaspoon of fine mustard
½ of a lemon
Basil

Instructions:
Cut the pineapples in medium pieces, sprinkle the saffron and add pepper
Remove the pits from the prunes and cut them in two
Stuff them with the pineapple pieces
Cut the slices of salmon into small strips
Roll them around the stuffed prunes
Stick a toothpick in them and place in the refrigerator
For the cream:
Dilute the mustard with a dash of lemon
Add salt and pepper
Add the cream and a piece of chopped basil.
Serve and enjoy!