The other day I noticed that America’s Sunsweet Prunes is running a promotional campaign on social media and it brought back memories of my early career.

A few years ago, when I was finishing my marketing degree, I was shoulder-tapped by the management of Sunsweet Prunes to help improve their NZ sales. To me, prunes were an old-fashioned breakfast food that my grandmother enjoyed.

However, prunes are much more. They are nuggets of nutritional goodness: rich in soluble and insoluble fibre, a good source of vitamin A, iron and hard-to-source potassium. They’re low in calories and don’t contain cholesterol.

My company (Irvine Holt) targeted school sports teams in New Zealand’s major cities, turning up to early morning games laden with sample bags of Sunsweet prunes. We organised a ‘Top Team’ radio competition and the rivalry between schools was intense. We also provided recipes with photos to print media. Our campaign was a great success. Sunsweet sales took off.

Ever since I’ve kept a bag of prunes in the pantry. They can, among other treats: make quick snacks stuffed with goat’s cheese; be minced to make bliss balls; added to chilli dishes for a touch of sweetness; or soaked in gin for an after-dinner treat. Versatile prunes are more than a breakfast food.


Quick, savoury, delicious.

 24 pitted prunes
115g soft goat’s cheese
1/4 cup (35g) finely chopped pistachio nuts
2-3 tablespoons honey, melted

Place the prunes on a plate. Top each with a teaspoon of goat’s cheese. Sprinkle with a little chopped pistachio. Drizzle with the honey. Makes 24.



Cool treat.

400g pitted prunes
1 medium orange
150g glace mixed peel
Coating: icing sugar, finely chopped nuts, desiccated coconut or sunflower seeds

Place the prunes in a food processor. Quarter the orange leaving the skin on. Discard the pips. Add the orange and mixed peel to the food processor. Chop well, until fairly smooth. Chill for 1 hour.

Roll into 2.5 cm balls then roll in your coating of choice. Store in an airtight container in the fridge and use withing 1 week. Or store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Makes about 32.



High time treat.

I first discovered these alcoholic delights in a little café in Paris. They were served with coffee after dinner. I tried to express to the waiter — in rather poor French — that the prunes were drunk. He was very confused and called the café owner. I was told in a rather severe voice: “In France, you never make jokes about food.”

1 cup pitted prunes
1/2-3/4 cup gin
1 star anise and/or a 1/2 cinnamon stick, optional

Place the prunes in a small jar. Add the spices, s if using. Top up with gin. Screw the lid on tightly and store the jar for at least 2 weeks. Drain, reserving the gin.

Serve the prunes as an after-dinner treat. The gin can be consumed with tonic at any other time.



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