Prune juice is a popular beverage known for its mild laxative effects and sweet, thick consistency. It is made from dried plums, also known as prunes, which contain high amounts of antioxidants, potassium, and vitamin K. Prune juice has been used for centuries as a traditional remedy to help relieve constipation and promote regularity. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how prune juice is made, its key ingredients and nutritional benefits, and some tips for enjoying it.
Making Prune Juice
Prune juice is made by pressing or blending prunes with water. Prunes are dried plums that have had most of their water content removed. To make prune juice, prunes are first rehydrated in hot water for a period of time, allowing them to become swollen and tender. The prunes are then pressed or blended along with their soaking liquid to extract the juice. Extra water may be added to achieve the desired consistency.
Key Steps to Make Prune Juice
- Wash and rinse fresh, pitted prunes.
- Soak prunes in hot water for 30-60 minutes until softened and swollen.
- Drain the soaking liquid from the prunes into a bowl, reserving it.
- Press or blend the soaked prunes, adding some of the soaking liquid back as needed.
- Strain the prune mash through a sieve or cheesecloth to extract the juice.
- Combine the extracted prune juice with the reserved soaking liquid.
- Adjust consistency by adding small amounts of water if needed.
- Bottle the prune juice and refrigerate until ready to use.
The exact ratio of prunes to water can vary, but roughly 1 pound of prunes will yield 16-24 oz of juice. The soaking time helps to soften the prunes and release more of their flavor and nutrients into the juice. By saving the nutrient-rich soaking liquid and blending the rehydrated prunes, maximum juice extraction is achieved.
Ingredients in Prune Juice
The main ingredients in prune juice are prunes and water. Let’s look closer at the nutritional contents of these two components:
Prunes are dried plums with the following nutritional profile per 100g serving:
As shown above, prunes are high in carbs and fiber. They also contain significant amounts of potassium, vitamin K, vitamin A, and other antioxidants. These nutrients are retained in prune juice.
The water used in prune juice helps thin out the consistency and allows for easier drinking compared to eating whole prunes. Water provides pure hydration without adding any calories, carbs, or nutrients. Filtered or spring water is usually preferred.
So in summary, the main nutritional benefits of prune juice come directly from the prunes themselves, while the water helps create the juice texture and spreads out the flavor.
Nutritional Benefits of Prune Juice
Drinking prune juice offers the following key health benefits:
Prune juice is most well known for its ability to relieve constipation. The high fiber and sorbitol content in prunes help add bulk and moisture to stools, stimulating bowel movements. The natural laxative effects come from phenolic compounds in prunes as well. Daily prune juice can help promote regularity.
Boosts Heart Health
Prune juice contains potassium, which helps lower blood pressure by balancing fluids and minerals in the body. The antioxidants in prune juice can also help reduce LDL or “bad” cholesterol.
Prunes are a good source of vitamin K, which supports bone density and strength. The potassium in prunes may also help protect against bone loss from aging.
The nutrients and antioxidants in prune juice support overall digestive health. Prunes contain dihydroxyphenyl isatin, which stimulates the growth of good bacteria in the gut. The fiber also promotes regularity.
Prunes are rich in phenolic compounds with antioxidant properties, including neochlorogenic acid and chlorogenic acid. These antioxidants neutralize cell damage from free radicals to reduce disease risk.
In addition to the benefits above, prune juice also provides energy, hydration, and essential nutrients like vitamin A, magnesium, and B-complex vitamins. Overall, adding prune juice to your diet can promote gut, bone, heart, and overall health.
Prune Juice Nutrition Facts
Here is the nutrition breakdown for a 1 cup serving of canned prune juice made from California prunes:
As you can see, prune juice is high in carbs from natural sugars in the prunes. It also contains a considerable amount of potassium, vitamin K, and other micronutrients. The calorie, carb, and nutrient counts can vary slightly between brands. But in general, prune juice made from whole prunes offers more nutritional value than heavily processed “prune juice drink” products.
Selecting the Best Prune Juice
When shopping for prune juice, here are a few tips for selecting a quality product:
- Check the ingredients list – Look for 100% prune juice with no added sugars, preservatives or flavorings.
- Choose juices made with whole prunes rather than prune juice concentrate.
- Avoid products labeled “prune juice beverage”, “prune drink” or “prune cocktail”.
- Select organic prune juice when possible.
- Stick to reputable brands such as Sunsweet, Kirkland, or Grasse if buying pre-bottled juice.
- Consider making your own juice from whole prunes for maximum freshness.
Also keep in mind that prune juice is perishable and should be refrigerated after opening to extend its shelf life. The best prune juice provides the concentrated nutrition, fiber, and flavors from real prunes in each sip.
Possible Side Effects of Prune Juice
Prune juice is generally safe when consumed in moderation but can cause some side effects in some individuals including:
- Diarrhea – Due to its laxative properties, too much prune juice may cause loose stools or diarrhea.
- Abdominal discomfort – Drinking large amounts may produce gas, bloating or cramps.
- Dangerously low potassium levels when taken with certain diuretics.
- Allergic reactions in those with plum/prune sensitivities.
To avoid undesirable effects, start with small 4-8 oz servings of prune juice to assess your tolerance. Don’t drink more than 24 oz per day. Avoid drinking prune juice within 1-2 hours of taking oral medications. Those on diuretics like furosemide should be cautious with prune juice due to its potassium content. Speak with your doctor if any concerning symptoms occur.
Tips for Enjoying Prune Juice
Here are some simple ways to incorporate more prune juice into your diet:
- Breakfast Juice – Combine 4-6 oz prune juice with orange juice and a dash of cinnamon.
- Over Ice – Pour prune juice over ice for a cooling drink.
- Smoothies – Blend prune juice with Greek yogurt, banana, and ice for a nutrition-packed smoothie.
- Oatmeal – Stir a few tablespoons of prune juice into hot oatmeal along with walnuts and cinnamon.
- Baked Goods – Use prune juice in place of other liquids in muffin, bread, or cake recipes.
- Marinades and Sauces – Mix prune juice with balsamic vinegar, mustard, and herbs to marinate meats or dress salads.
- Cocktails – Create a delicious mocktail by adding prune juice to sparkling water and lime juice over ice.
Prune juice has a unique sweet-tart taste and viscous, syrupy texture. Combining it with juices, spices, mixers, and other ingredients can make for delicious and nutritious drinks and food.
Prune juice is an underrated beverage packed with key nutrients, antioxidants, and natural laxative power. Made simply from dried plums and water, it provides concentrated nutrition that supports digestive regularity, heart health, strong bones, and more. Moderating your servings and selecting 100% prune juice products will allow you to reap the benefits of this wholesome juice while avoiding adverse side effects. With its thick, molasses-like texture and satisfyingly sweet taste, prune juice can be enjoyed on its own or creatively incorporated into various recipes and drinks.