During our summer holidays, we got to stay on a plum farm in Agen, in the south of France. While we were there, we got to enjoy lots of the truly fine local produce. Our hosts gave me a supply of delicious prunes (dried plums) which I enjoyed so much, I had to get more to try the classic dish of the region Agen Prunes in Armagnac. It would have been rude to not try it given that Agen sits beside Armagnac and it really is a delight. Have mine been successful? Like I say in the headline, I’ll tell you at Christmas. I made them last week (October) and they are now hidden away in a dark press in preserving jars. They are out of sight so they have a good chance of making it to December 25th, by which time, they should be perfect.
Before I start into the recipe, while we were there, the temperatures got really hot for a few of the days, reaching well into the 40s celsius. There was nothing to do on those days but hang around the farm and fly my drone. I shot some video of the farm. It’s really beautiful and sits in delightful countryside. Here’s an edit of what I shot.
Now, on with the cooking. The ingredients list is really short and the process is pretty easy. If you find yourself in Agen, pick up some prunes and nip over to Armagnac for the business end of this delicious dessert.
- 500 gms of quality, stoned Agen prunes
- 400 ml or so of Armagnac
- 200 gms sugar
- 2 vanilla pods
- A couple of tea bags (I made my own)
- Preserving jars
The first thing to do is to make the tea. We use loose leaf tea at home and had no tea bags. So I made my own using some muslin and a bit of cotton kitchen twine. It worked a treat (and it gave me a nice action/pouring shot).
The bag has a lot of tea (two heaped teaspoons) to make enough tea to soak the prunes. They need to be left soaking for at least four hours and, ideally, overnight. First thing to do is pour the water on the tea bag(s) in a large bowl.
Let the tea cool before adding the prunes to soak. While they are doing that, put the sugar in a saucepan and add about 400 ml of water.
Slice and seed the vanilla pods and add them to the saucepan. Bring this to a boil and melt the sugar. Reduce until you have a nice syrup and your whole house smells like an ice cream factory. Let the mixture cool.
Drain the prunes and pat them dry in an old tea towel. Why old? Because the tea stains will never come out. Place the prunes in the preserving jars. Add the syrup to fill about half way.
Top up the jars with the Armagnac. Close the lids and shake them up a bit. Let the jars settle before topping up again if needed with more of the spirit.
This is the part of the post where I usually would tell you about how delicious this was when tasted. I can’t do that. They need to be put away for at least six weeks. I plan to keep them for Christmas. We will enjoy them with some ice cream. I may remember to tell you how delicious they are. But, if I forget about the amount of Armagnac in there, I might for get to let you know too.
Bring on the festive season!