Plum and prunes may seem different, but they have a lot of similarities and a few unique characteristics that set them apart, especially when it comes to their juice.
Plum juice vs prune juice, what is the difference? Plum juice has a runnier consistency and a refreshingly sweet and slightly tang flavor. Prune juice tends to be denser and requires a lot of dried prunes to make a similarly-sized glass. Prune juice has an even sweeter and slightly tart flavor.
Find out the difference between these fruits, how they taste, and some of their health benefits below!
What Are Plums?
Plums are oval-sized fruit that comes from a flowering plant species called Prunus domestica, a.k.a., the plum tree.
They have a smooth exterior with a bright-to-dark red-purplish color. These fruits have a stone in the center and can be sweet and refreshingly tangy.
It is important to note that not all plums come from the same plant species. There are about 20 different species and each tree produces a slightly varied plum.
Most of these species were originally cultivated in China before they moved to Japan, and then eventually to the United States.
In fact, North American plums are botanically called “Prunus americana.”
These plums have a distinct bright red or light-yellow color during the fall season and can vary in how they taste, depending on their maturity.
Characteristics Of Plums And Plum Juice
Here are some important characteristics of plums and plum juice.
Plum juice has a dark-to-light red color. The color of the juice can vary if it is not filtered and has a considerable amount of pulp in it.
Unripe plums start with a bright green color. During this stage, these plums will be covered with white-petaled flowers which will completely cover the tree — quite a sight to see!
As the plums mature, they start to take on a redder shade and they continue to grow until they reach about 1-3 inches in diameter.
Fully mature plums will have a brilliant red color with hints of yellow or purple. These plums are usually ready near summertime and can be plucked straight from the branches.
If left to mature and dry, these plums will take on a darker color with hints of blue or purple — we’ll explore this stage in detail in a bit.
Plum juice has a smooth but slightly grainy texture. It is relatively runnier due to the natural water content in the fruit.
Plums start with a hard exterior that softens as the fruit ripens. During the early stages, a green plum will form a dense protective coating that is meant to keep predators (birds or other animals) away.
As the fruit mature, they start to take in more moisture and grow. The outer layer starts to thin out and the fruit becomes largely soft yet firm.
When a ripe plum is bitten into, the outer layer will provide just a bit of resistance before giving in to the soft and almost-mushy interior.
The inside of a plum consists of loosely packed fibers that are rich in moisture. This makes the fruit extremely enjoyable and tender!
At the center, you will find a stone-like mass called the pit. The pit contains the seed of the plum and is removed before consumption.
Plums have a sweet and refreshing flavor. You can easily detect varying tangy notes, depending on how ripe the fruit is.
During their early stages, green plums will usually have a sour and bitter flavor. These unfavorable flavor notes act as a defense mechanism of the tree to keep predators from eating the fruit before it matures.
As the plum ages, it becomes considerably sweeter and its sharp sourness gives way to a light tangy flavor.
Most mature plums may still retain some amount of sourness but in most cases, ripe and tender plums will likely have a predominately sweet flavor.
Keep in mind that not all plums are the same. Some are sweeter than others and their sweetness level can also vary from species to species.
Plum juice, especially the commercial variety, is considerably sweeter. It is usually supplemented with sugar and a mix of artificial and natural flavors.
Homemade plum juice tastes much more natural and you can also detect the full range of its subtle flavor notes.
Plum juice is loaded with vitamins, especially vitamin C. You also get a healthy dose of potassium with each serving of plum!
On average, a regular serving (150mg) will give you about 23% vitamin C, 17% carbs, and around 240mg of potassium.
Plum juice can also aid digestion and studies have shown that it can also help regulate blood pressure.
What Are Prunes?
Prunes are simply dried plums, but here’s the thing — not all dried plums can become prunes!
There are specific species of plums, like the European plum, that are selected to become prunes. These are harvested when the fruit is fully mature and ripe.
A large machine automatically sorts the plums and removes any remaining debris from the harvest. The plums then head towards a factory where they are stored in temperature-controlled tunnels.
On average, a plum can take anywhere from 14-20 hours to fully dehydrate.
This specific species of plum is preferred over others because of its high sugar content, which doesn’t allow the plums to ferment during the drying process.
Dried plums or prunes can be used in many ways, but perhaps they are best used in making refreshing and delicious juice!
Characteristics Of Prunes And Prune Juice
Here are all the qualities of prunes and prune juice.
Prunes have a distinct darker color and wrinkly appearance. While they start as purple and blueish plums, once dried, these fruits will take on a blacker outer skin.
This is why most homemade prune juices have a very deep purple color which can vary depending on the quality of the prunes.
Commercial prune juices can have artificial colors added to them, making them lighter. These juices will usually have a pronounced purple color.
Prunes have a chewy and sticky texture on their own, but in the context of juice, they will usually make for a very thick glass of prune juice!
Since the plums are dried with the stone/pit intact, prunes also have a pit; however, it’s much easier to remove.
Their dense and thick texture is due to their low moisture content — and the fact that it takes more prunes to make a standard serving of prune juice.
Some people prefer to filter the pulp from the juice, which produces a very dark-colored concentrate. This concentrate can be further processed by adding water and sugar.
For the best experience, we recommend making prune juice at home to get an idea of its natural thickness.
Prunes are commonly known to be more flavorful than plums. Once the plums are dried, the sugars inside the fruit become concentrated which accentuates the natural flavor notes of the fruit.
The prunes also go through chemical changes during the drying process, which makes them particularly sweet and flavorful.
Prune juice has a very sweet, slightly tangy, and even subtly bitter flavor.
Just like plum juice, the flavor of prune juice can vary depending on multiple factors such as the quality of the plums and the stage at which they were harvested.
Many people like to add artificial sweeteners to prune juice to make it even more delicious, especially for the younger crowd.
Just like plum juice, prune juice offers a healthy nutritional profile. The juice is high in vitamins, particularly vitamins K, A, and B.
Prune juice is also known to aid digestion and can even help you control your appetite due to its relatively higher fiber content.
Plum Juice Vs Prune Juice Breakdown
Here is a quick comparison of plum juice and prune juice:
|Plum Juice||Prune Juice|
|Made From||Fresh plums||Dried European plums|
|Color||Bright or light red||Darker color with shades of purple|
|Flavor||Sweet and tangy flavor||Sweeter than plum juice with subtle tangy and bitter notes.|
|Texture||Lightly grainy and runnier||Dense and thicker|
|Nutrition (Serving Size: 8oz)||Cal: 18|
Vitamin C: 7.2%
Vitamin A: 3.2%
Vitamin C: 8%
Vitamin A: 4%
Prunes and plums have similar flavor notes and nutrition since prunes are just specific dried varieties of plums.
Now that you know the differences between the two, here are some related questions we thought you might have.
Do prunes expire?
Prunes are dehydrated fruit with a high sugar content, which gives them a stable shelf life of up to 6 months. You can further extend their shelf life by refrigerating or freezing the prunes, which will add up to 6 more months of shelf life!
Please always check stored prunes for fungal growth or changing textures before consuming them.
Is plum juice a good laxative?
Plum juice contains a small amount of sorbitol, which is a class of carbohydrate that is also called sugar alcohol.
This substance can have a laxative effect when consumed in large quantities. Since prunes are much more concentrated than plums, they also have a higher sorbitol content, making prune juice a great natural laxative.