“Pruneau d’Agen” – the dried plum of Agen – is the product that puts the town of Agen, in the Lot-et-Garonne department of the southwest France, on the map!
It is obtained from a specific variety of plums, called Prune d’Ente, dried for 24 hours in a special oven at a temperature between 70 and 80 °C.
The plum tree came to France during the Roman occupation of Gaul (it came to the Roman Empire from China via the Silk Road) during the first centuries AD. In the 12th century one Arnaud, abbot of the Clairac Benedictine abbey near Agen, brought a new variety of plums at his return from a crusade in the Holy Land. The monks of the abbey grafted the new variety on the old Roman trees and obtained the “d’Ente” plum that became the “plum of Agen”.
Throughout the centuries the dried plum of Agen achieved such a reputation that it became the chief export item of the region; in 1893, 73,000 tones of dried plums were exported to New York only!
In 1944 just after the liberation of Lot-et-Garonne during the Second World War the Liberation Comity, declaring the dried prune of Agen one of the best and most renowned products of the region, issued a call to all plum farmers transform all their harvest in dried plums. Farmers caught selling fresh plums were to be punished by prison!
Each year, at the end of August, Agen celebrates its most famous fruit with a festival called “Grand Pruneau Show”. This free event features street music and theatre, sport competitions, gastronomic workshops centered on the plum, and the mandatory dried plum tasting, all taking place in the center of Agen!
Hi, I am Carla. I am living and working in the beautiful city of Toulouse, France.
I like history, travel and... the southwest of France and try to share through this blog information about events that might be of interest to the travelers to this part of the world!