Prunes are simply dried plums. Research is ongoing into their high phytonutrient content. They are considered useful to combat free radical damage to fats. These prunes are pitted (the stone has been removed).
Prunes (or dried plums) are a good source of vitamin A, dietary fibre, potassium and copper. Delicious squeezed for prune juice or for use in baking. These prunes are sorbated, meaning they have had potassium sorbate (the potassium salt of sorbic acid) added, which is used to prevent mould and yeast spoilage. Sorbic acid is completely safe; it is found in nature in the European sorb apple and in rowanberries.
Prunes are an effective digestive aid as they contain both soluble and insoluble fibre as well as sorbitol, an unfermentable sugar which has been shown to produce a good medium for the production of desirable intestinal microorganisms. Insoluble fibre adds bulk and pulls water into the intestine resulting in a softer stool that is more quickly eliminated. Soluble fibre mixes with water in the stomach to become more viscous. This can result in the stomach emptying more slowly, giving a feeling of satiety, and aiding in the absorption of important nutrients. Prunes are also highly recommended for people suffering from arthritis as they have anti-inflammatory properties.
It's up to you whether you wish to soak these prunes, if they seem dry soaking for a few minutes in hot water will help refresh them. If you are planning on cooking the prunes, soaking them in water or juice beforehand will reduce the cooking time. Some people find it easier to soak them overnight for use the next day, but it's not essential.