My Trip to Sonoma and Everything I Learned About California Prunes

california prunes press trip

Aren’t these gorgeous? The film on the prune is actually just a film covering made by the fruit that you can rub off before eating. Not a treatment of any sort!

 

Good morning! 

I just got back from Sonoma last week as your probably saw over on Instagram, I was so excited and inspired by the trip I wanted to share everything right away. First off, this experience with California Prunes was one of the coolest and most interesting press trips I’ve ever been on. Everyone was wonderful, and every detail of the experience was thoughtful and inspiring all while being educational! The California Prune Board created so many wonderful and unique experiences for us and I grew such an appreciation for the farmers and their passion for agriculture. 

I also got some hilarious messages about prunes, prune plums, plums and the confusion between them all. I won’t lie, I also had some misconceptions/confusion about the prune so hopefully today’s post clears that up and shares a sneak peek into our trip. 

 

 

california prunes trip

Visiting the orchards and hearing from the farmers was one of my favorite parts. Their connection to the soil and love for what they do is inspiring!

 

california prunes

I wish you could have tasted these fresh with me, so juicy and delicious!

 

prune orchard

Living my best California life 😉 

 

california prunes

We were able to see how they harvest the prunes and use this machine to literally shake them out of the tree. Everything you see on the ground has been dropped because it doesn’t meet the skin firmness or sweetness of California standards. They are literally absorbed back into the soil and replenishing the earth! 

 

california drying process

The science of drying the prunes actually conserves all of the nutritional value which is amazing!

 

 

What is a Prune? Is it a dried plum?

Most California Prunes are of the Improved French prune variety and these trees produce plums that are specifically developed to become prunes. I think there is confusion when it comes to what we think of as a traditional plum you would see in the supermarket. That type of plum is totally different from these and grown on a different type of tree. 

So, in essence a prune is a prune 🙂

 

Why California Prunes? 

California currently grows 99% of the total United States’ production of prunes and 40% of the world’s supply. There are currently about 48,000 acres of California Prune orchards concentrated in the Sacramento and San Joaquin Valleys. 

Unlike other areas of the world, California has the most rigorous agricultural standards of any place on earth. The practice of ripening prunes on the tree and then drying them in climate-controlled tunnels, balancing temperature, humidity and time are all unique and crucial to the taste of the California Prune.

We visited the Martinez Orchard and heard from several prune farmers about the process and how connected they are to it. Every farmer had grown up on a prune farm and had a connection to the process which was so uplifting to see! 

 

 

What health benefits do prunes have? 

Prunes are most known for their gentle laxative effect but their benefits go way beyond that! They aid in a healthy gut, have important prebiotic fibers, aid with bone health and are a rich source of potassium and Vitamin K. They are packed with phytonutrients and the drying process doesn’t diminish their nutritional value at all. 

 

In a snapshot, a serving of prunes (4) has:

3 g fiber (11% Daily Value)

280 mg potassium (6% Daily Value)

23 mcg of vitamin K (20% of the Daily Value)

No added sugar, cholesterol, sodium or fat

Vitamins and minerals, potassium, copper, and boron, which may have bone protective qualities

 

We heard from Leslie Bonci, MPH, RDN, CSSD, LDN (sidenote: this woman is hilarious and needs her own show!) who really hit on something I think is so important. She said a lot of her athletes, clients, and friends will try to incorporate things that aren’t realistic for their everyday life. She loves California Prunes and recommends them to her clients because they are an accessible, affordable and realistic way to pack in a ton of nutrients. 

 

 

How many are an appropriate serving? 

The recommended serving of prunes is 4-5!

 

 

What about the high sugar? 

Prunes contain NO added sugar and their glycemic load is 1/3 of date’s. I didn’t realize how crucial that was to allow for slow digestion keeping you satisfied for longer and give you a steadier energy source. You won’t experience that sugar high and crash you may from other fruit! 

 

 

california prunes

After visiting the orchards we had a beautiful lunch outside and heard from an inspiring panel of prune growers. This jam was to die for and I am going to try to recreate the recipe and share!

 

beautiful flowers

Every detail of our day was stunning. How gorgeous are these? 

 

buckhorn catering

Our lunch was courtesy of Buckhorn Catering and not to be dramatic but their BBQ chicken with the California Prune BBQ sauce was one of the best I’ve ever had. 

 

buckhorn catering

 

bbq chicken

 

 

What are some creative ways to use them? 

I can’t believe all the ways we used California Prunes throughout the trip but some of my favorite were in energy bars, protein bites, chutneys and jams, and with caramel! I will be sharing some fun ways soon but you can always check this page out for ideas in the meantime. 

 

 

sunset magazine test kitchen

After resting up a bit we headed out to Sunset Magazine’s Test Kitchen and Garden at Cornerstone Sonoma and I wish I could have documented every inch of it. It was the most magical outdoor setting with beautiful art installations!

 

prunes trip

We watched several cooking demonstrations with Chef Kyle from Ramekins of items being prepared that we would later eat for dinner which was awesome to see it from concept to plate. 

 

prune foccacia

This focaccia was TO DIE FOR. 

 

sunset foods sonoma

We then all got to do a Build Your Own Crostone and the jam that we used on these was delectable and I’m working on recreating it. 

 

prune costini

My finished product 🙂

 

sunset gardens

The prettiest dahlia’s in the garden.

 

prohibition spirits sonoma

After our cooking demos and tastings we headed to the garden where Prohibition Spirits was whipping up some tasty cocktails. 

 

Their RV bar was the cutest!

 

 

 

california prunes

After cocktails we had a beautiful 3 course meal with wine pairings in a tent under the stars! It was truly beautiful. 

 

 

Hope this answered a majority of the questions I received and stay tuned for some fun recipe testing soon! Be sure to check out California Prunes online at www.CaliforniaPrunes.org and on social media @CAprunes.

 

 

 

This post was sponsored by California Prunes. As always, all opinions are my own and thank you for supporting brands that make Lows to Luxe possible!

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