A 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, and bees help pollinate the blossoms so 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 up 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 stacked onto 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.
- Prunes are simply plums grown on trees in orchards and dried in large ovens called tunnels.
- This variety used in California comes from a French plum called La Petite 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.
- The first prune orchard was established in Santa Clara County, California now known as the Silicon Valley
- Prunes are fully ripened on the tree, so farmers determine harvest time by checking fruit firmness and sugar content.
- Three pounds of fresh fruit makes one pound of prunes.
- Prunes are a healthy snack that count as a full serving of fruit.
- Prunes are an excellent source of Vitamin K and a source of manganese which contribute to the maintenance of normal bone.
- Prunes are naturally sweet with no added sugar and make for an easy ingredient swap in baked goods.
- California is the world’s largest prune producer. Today, there are more than 40,000 acres of California Prune orchards concentrated in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys.
- California Prunes are enjoyed globally – Europe, Canada, and Asian markets such as Japan and China, are among the top exports.
Why Are Prunes Grown in California?
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 grows 40 percent of the world’s prunes and we send them to over 50 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!
Color Me Purple
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Get the Facts!
Download this educational, kid-friendly fact sheet designed for students and educators created in collaboration with the California Foundation for Agriculture in the Classroom.