Are prunes and plums the same?

Prunes and plums are closely related fruits that belong to the same genus Prunus. However, while they share similarities, prunes and plums are different in a few key ways.

Origins and botany

Prunes and plums are both stone fruits that belong to the Prunus genus. There are over 200 species of Prunus fruits including peaches, nectarines, apricots, and cherries. Within the Prunus genus, prunes and plums belong to the Prunus domestica species. Prunus domestica originated in the Caucasus regions around the Caspian and Black Seas. It is believed that prunes and plums were first domesticated around 2000 BC.

Despite their similarities, prunes and plums are different cultivars of Prunus domestica. A cultivar refers to a plant variety that has been produced in cultivation by selective breeding. Plums tend to be oval or heart-shaped while prunes are typically rounder in shape. Prunes also generally have smoother skin and a higher sugar content than plums.

The main botanical difference between prunes and plums lies in their moisture content. Prunes contain much less moisture than plums. A fresh plum is around 80% water while a prune is only 30% water. The lower moisture content allows prunes to have a longer shelf life than fresh plums.

How are prunes made?

Prunes are simply plums that have been dried to remove most of their moisture. Any plum variety can be used to make prunes, but certain varieties like French Improved, Italian and Imperial are especially well-suited for drying.

The process of creating prunes involves:

  • Harvesting plums
  • Dehydrating plums through sun drying, forced air dehydration, or a combination of both
  • Treating the plums with hot water to hydrate the flesh back
  • Re-drying the plums
  • Grading and packaging the prunes

This drying and rehydrating process not only removes moisture but also concentrates the natural sugars in the plums, giving prunes a distinctive sweet taste.


As a result of the drying process, prunes are highly concentrated sources of many important nutrients compared to fresh plums.

Here is a nutrition comparison of 100 grams of prunes vs. 100 grams of fresh plums:

Nutrient Prunes (100g) Plums (100g)
Calories 240 46
Protein 2.2g 0.7g
Carbs 63g 11g
Fiber 7g 1.4g
Potassium 732mg 157mg
Vitamin K 59μg 6.4μg

As you can see, prunes contain significantly more calories, carbohydrates, fiber, and other micronutrients than fresh plums. The concentration of nutrients is what gives prunes their unique nutritional benefits.

Health benefits

Both prunes and plums are nutritious, but prunes have some additional health benefits:

Improved bone health

Prunes are rich in vitamin K, boron, and potassium, all of which support bone health. Research shows that eating prunes regularly can help improve bone mineral density.

Promotion of digestive health

Prunes act as a natural laxative thanks to their fiber content, sorbitol sugar alcohol, and phenolic compounds. Eating prunes can help promote regularity and relieve constipation.

Lower cholesterol

Studies indicate that the fiber pectin, sterols, and phenolic compounds in prunes may help reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.

Aiding weight loss

The fiber in prunes slows digestion, promotes satiety after meals, and supports weight loss. Prunes can be part of a healthy weight loss diet.

Of course, plums offer their own health benefits as well with their array of antioxidants and nutrients. But pound for pound, prunes contain higher levels of important compounds like fiber, potassium, and vitamin K.

Culinary uses

Prunes and plums can both be used in sweet and savory dishes:


  • Breakfast – oatmeal, yogurt, cereals
  • Salads – chicken salad, fruit salad, spinach salad
  • Meat dishes – stews, tagines, duck
  • Baked goods – cakes, breads, muffins


  • Raw – eaten fresh or sliced in fruit salads
  • Jams, jellies, compotes
  • Sauces – chutneys, relishes, compotes
  • Desserts – cakes, crisps, ice cream, sorbets
  • Savoury dishes – chutneys, relishes, compotes, pork dishes

Dried prunes work especially well in hearty dishes where their sweetness and sticky texture are assets. Plums are better fresh or cooked briefly to preserve their delicate flavour.


Prunes are generally more expensive than fresh plums. Some average costs are:

  • Prunes – $0.50 to $2 per pound
  • Plums – $2 to $3 per pound

The price can vary based on factors like the variety, whether organic is used, and the time of year. Prunes tend to keep better than fresh plums, but both can be stored for months in the refrigerator if dried properly.


Both plums and prunes are available year-round, but their peak seasons are:

  • Plums – May to September
  • Prunes – September to February

Prunes are dried in early fall when plums are harvested. They can then be enjoyed throughout the winter months when fresh plums are not in season.


In summary, plums and prunes share an origin as cultivars of Prunus domestica. However, prunes differ from fresh plums in that they are dried to remove moisture, resulting in a higher concentration of nutrients and natural sugars. The drying process gives prunes unique benefits for bone health, digestion, weight loss, and other aspects of health. Both prunes and plums can add flavor and nutrition to a diet in sweet or savory dishes. Though prunes tend to be more expensive, they have a longer shelf life than fresh plums. With their distinct nutrient content and flavors, both prunes and plums can be tasty and healthy additions to meals and snacks.

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