Super food for super kids! Not only are California Prunes a low-glycemic, naturally sweet treat, but they also help build strong bones and promote a healthy gut.
From Plums to Prunes
Prunes come from plum trees! Farmers grow orchards of plum trees and each spring bees help pollinate the little white blossoms so the fruit can start to grow. As the plums ripen, they turn from green to dark purple. Then, it’s harvest time! A mechanical harvester grabs the trunk and shakes the fresh fruit onto a fabric-covered frame set under the tree. From there, the fruit takes a ride on a conveyor belt to the bins. After weighing and washing, the fresh prune plums are placed on stackable trays and rolled into large tunnels, where they dry in hot air. When this is done, the fruit looks like the prunes we are familiar with, but they’re not ready to eat just yet! The prunes still have to get sorted, steamed, pitted and packaged before you can eat them. Finally! It’s snack time!
- Although all prunes are plums, not all plums can be prunes. Only certain varieties can be dehydrated the right way, turning them into prunes. California Prunes are the “Improved French” variety of plums.
- This variety used in California comes from a French plum called the Petit d’Agen. A Frenchman named Louis Pellier came to California during the Gold Rush, but he didn’t find much gold, so he decided to try growing prunes instead. He attached part of the French plum tree to a wild American plum tree—a practice that farmers call “grafting”—and created the California Prune that’s famous today.
- These trees grew so well in California that other growers soon caught on, and orchards began popping up all over the state from the Santa Clara and San Joaquin Valleys to Sacramento, Sonoma, and Napa.
- At first, farmers picked the fresh prunes by hand and dried them in the open air and sun. But one farmer tried using 500 monkeys to pick his fruit instead! The monkeys did pick the prunes but they also ate them all! Those monkeys got fired and today farmers use machines to pick the prunes.
- California is the perfect place to grow prunes because of the lush valleys with rich soils and long warm seasons. With lots of sunshine, water, and smart farming techniques, the prunes ripen perfectly giving us lots of fresh California Prunes with a sweet flavor that tastes great.
- Today, California supplies 40 percent of the world’s prunes and we send them to over 60 countries each year. That’s enough prunes to circle the earth more than six times!
- California Prunes are good for your gut, your heart, and even your bones!