Prunes in Sirrop

32. To make Prunes in sirrop
Take Prunes, and put Claret Wine to them, and Suger, as much as you thinke will make them pleasant, let all these seethe together till ye thinke the Liquor looke like a sirrop, and that your Prunes be well swollen: and so keep them in a vessell as ye doe green Ginger.
John Partridge, The Treasury of Hidden Secrets, 1653

To make Prunes in Syrup
Take prunes, and put them in claret wine and sugar, as much as you think will make them pleasant. Let all these simmer together until the liquid looks like a syrup, and the prunes are swollen, and keep them in a vessel as you do green ginger.

This recipe illustrates one of the great truisms of research – it often pays to track down the original to verify the facts. I first read this recipe in Peter Brears’ Tudor Cookery, which specified the recipe came from John Partridge’s 1573 Treasurie of Commodius Conceites and Hidden Secrets. This work contains many sweet recipes, and you can find a good transcript at David Myer’s Medieval Cookery site here. However, when I searched the transcript of Commodius Conceites for this recipe, I couldn’t find it; not only that, “syrup” was consistently spelled “syrope.” I even went to Early English Books Online to search the facsimile – I still couldn’t find the recipe. After a lot of searching, I finally found the recipe above – in a 1653 reprint, the text of which can be found here. Commodius Conceites went through several reprints and revisions(Holman, 2002, 2), and I would say the Prunes in Syrup recipe was added in one of these.

This is a very easy, indulgent recipe, and the prunes in a pretty jar make an excellent gift. Although it is a recipe from a seventeenth century source, it would be fine to serve this at a SCA Elizabethan period feast.


250g prunes 500mL merlot 125g sugar


  1. Soak the prunes overnight in the merlot so they rehydrate.
  2. Drain the prunes, reserving the merlot.
  3. Put the merlot and sugar in a pan and over a low heat, stir until the sugar is dissolved.
  4. Return the prunes to the pan and bring to a simmer.
  5. Cook until the liquid has thickened and reduced to the desired consistency.
  6. You can make the prunes ahead of time and store in a sealed, sterilised jar. They can be served hot or cold.


  • I like to use wine made from merlot grapes as these are very close to the grapes used to make medieval claret. They are one of the oldest varieties (Shotman).


Further Reading

Brears, Peter. Tudor Cookery. Swindon, 2002.
Holman, S.R. “Introduction,” The Treasury of Hidden Secrets

Shotman, Sarah. Wines of History – Claret

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