Plums belong to the Prunus genus of plants and are relatives of the peach, nectarine and almond. They are all considered “drupes,” fruits that have a hard stone pit surrounding their seeds. There are over 2,000 varieties of plums growing all over the world. Plums are classified into six general categories—Japanese, American, Damson, Ornamental, Wild and European/Garden—whose size, shape and colors vary. Although usually round, plums can also be oval or heart-shaped. The skins of plums can be red, purple, blue-black, red, green, yellow or amber, while their flesh comes in hues such as yellow, green and pink and orange.
When plums are dried, they become the fruit we know as prunes. In 2000, the Food and Drug Administration granted the permission to use “dried plums” as an alternative name to prunes. Aloo Bukhara is the dried form of a plum variety believed to have originated in Asia and since then, they have been cultivated all over the world mainly in Iraq, Iran, Pakistan and India. Latin name for these plums is Prunus bokharensis. The dried fruit is used as flavoring in Persian and Central Asian cooking.
Aloo bukhara has a chewy and wrinkly textured flesh and its taste range from sweet tart to sour. It is golden in color and becomes darker as it ages.
Dried plums are “ready-to-eat” right from the package as a healthful snack or can be used as a versatile cooking or baking ingredient. Now more than ever, professional culinarians appreciate not only the well-known health benefits but also the great taste, texture and flavor of dried plums. They are most commonly used as flavoring in Persian and Central Asia cooking.
Aloo Bukharas are good source of vitamins A and C and also provide dietary fiber. They are also a good source of antioxidants known as phenols, which protect against the damaging free radicals that aggravate the process of aging and are responsible for the initiation of many disease conditions. Regular consumption may prevent age-related macular degeneration and other infections related to the eye. Consumption of Aloo Bukhara is believed to assist in the synthesis and absorption of iron in the body, thereby leading to improved blood circulation, which in turn leads to healthy growth of tissues. Researchers have also reported the anti-cancer benefits of Aloo Bukhara as well as its immune-boosting capacity. In the dried form, they work as an effective laxative and a concentrated energy source.
Purchasing Aloo Bukhara
The Persian dried plums contain pits and are sold in most Persian or Middle Eastern supermarkets. You may also find them online. Ideally, you should purchase dried plums that are sold in properly sealed transparent containers so that you can evaluate them for quality. They should have relatively soft and meaty flesh.
Dried plums do not require refrigeration but once the package is opened, it’s best to store them in an airtight bag or a container in a cool and dry place. They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 years and in the freezer indefinitely.