Prunes are actually dried plums (although prune is the French for plum), but the resemblance between the fresh and reconstituted dried fruit is not very obvious and they are not interchangeable in recipes. Prunes are made from dark purple to black plums rather than the red or yellow varieties and they have a sweet flavour with a slightly chewy texture.
Uses: They can be used in sweet and savoury dishes including tarts, pies and compotes and in meat or game casseroles.
To prepare: Remove the stones from unpitted prunes using a small, sharp knife. Prunes will need to be reconstituted in liquid if they are not being used in a dish containing liquid - soak them in water, wine or orange juice for 20 minutes, use drained or in their soaking liquid depending on the recipe they are to be included in.
To cook: Prunes can be stewed and served in compotes or simply with custard. Cook soaked prunes in their soaking liquid plus enough water to cover, 50-100g sugar and a piece of lemon rind to every 600ml of liquid, simmer gently until they are soft.