I was lucky enough to be recently chosen to attend a media trip for the California Prune Board. I admit I jumped at the chance and not just because I'd be in one of the most beautiful parts of California, Sonoma, but also because I was super curious about these small fruits that I only see being sold dried in bags in my grocery store. But after seeing the process of tree to shelf, I knew there was way more interesting things to find out about them.
This post was sponsored by the California Prune Board. Myself and 20 other bloggers from across the country met in the Sacramento Valley, where we started a journey to learn all about California Prunes. From seeing them on the tree and watching them being shaken off into huge containers to being baked in giant ovens for up to 18 hours, we learned how growers create that perfectly dried fruit that packs so much fiber and polyphenols that they really should be called a superfood. Spending time with the people who are at the forefront of prune producing is important. I don't think I would have learned half as much as I did if the trip was presented by a third party. We spent time with farmers and growers and heard firsthand what it’s like to be a California Prune grower. It's hard work, but prunes from California set the bar for the rest of the world. They really are the best prunes you'll taste. Every prune is sized so that you the customer doesn't receive any sub-standard prunes in the bags that you buy. Any prunes that don't meet the standard are left to hit the ground, but not as waste. They become compost and breathe fresh new life into the orchard trees as they prepare to produce another round of fruit. California is responsible for 99% of U.S. prune supply and 40% of the world’s prune supply.
I ate California Prunes right from the tree and they were sweet and juicy, a little bit like a plum, they belong to the same family but that's where the resemblance ends. I tasted the prunes warm as they were hauled out of the hot ovens on wooden racks where they baked for 18 hours to extract as much moisture as possible but without ending up with a leathery piece of fruit. Even with their natural sugar content to keep them tasting sweet, prunes have an extremely low glycemic index so they're the perfect snack to have on-hand without suffering from high sugar spikes followed by the inevitable blood sugar crash. This is important for me and my family as my daughter has type 1 diabetes and has to watch her sugar levels constantly. Snacks that don’t cause sugar spikes are more favorable for a diabetic so prunes are a great personal choice for me! As tasty as they are, California Prunes aren't just for snacking straight from the bag. They pair well with both sweet and savory foods, especially proteins like chicken and fish and are perfect in desserts when you prefer to cut back on regular sugar. Even throwing a few into your morning smoothie will carry you through the mid-morning slump. We ate so many great items like prune focaccia, prune and olive compote and prune clafoutis but one of my favorite things I tasted was the homemade California Prune Puree Chocolate Chip Cookies so I'm passing the recipe on to you guys courtesy of The California Prune Board. You have to make these cookies!