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Sunsweet Prunes

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We regularly publish some great healthy living tips, new recipes and other Prune tidbits on our blog

Our Simnel Cake is a wonderfully fruity twist on the traditional classic.

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, April 27, 2017

Simnel Cake has enjoyed something of a resurgence in recent years. Supermarkets report brisk sales of ready-made versions. But how much more joyful to fill your home with the aroma of cinnamon, nutmeg and candied orange peel as you bake your own? Did you know that the cake is traditionally topped with 11 marzipan balls to represent Jesus’ 11 disciples?

Ingredients


300 g butter
130 g brown sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
4 eggs
250 g flour
1 tsp. baking powder
5 tbsp. starch
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
300 g Sunsweet prunes, diced
50 g candied orange peel
300 g marzipan
1 egg yolk

Other:
cake spring form baking tin, 26 cm

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven at 170 °C (convection 150 °C).
  2. Mix butter and sugar. Add grated lemon zest. Slowly add eggs, flour, baking powder and starch. Fold in cinnamon, nutmeg, prunes and candied orange peel. Line the bottom and the sides of a cake spring form baking tin with baking paper. Spoon the dough into tin, place in preheated oven and bake for approx. 1 hour. Let it cool completely.
  3. Roll out about 200 g of marzipan and cut a circle (Ø 26 cm). Place onto the cake. Press slightly. Divide remaining marzipan into 11 equal pieces and form eleven balls. Position the balls on the marzipan circle. Brush cake topping with a little beaten egg yolk. Preheat the grill and place cake into the oven. Grill until marzipan begins to brown.

Healthier Snacking for Busy Families

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, April 20, 2017

Time pressures, for many of us, seem to be rising both exponentially and relentlessly. Families with young children, in particular, seem to be constantly on the move with even the tiniest of tots having a packed schedule. Meals eaten together, up at the table, have become more of a special occasion thing than an everyday thing. And snacking has become just a regular part of our time-strapped, modern lives. Not all snacks are created equally, though!

With so much of the food that we consume being eaten “on the hoof”, it’s important to opt – wherever possible - for snacks that pack a nutritious punch without piling on the pounds.

The stats on obesity, from the World Health Organisation, are startling:

  • Worldwide obesity has more than doubled since 1980.
  • By 2014, almost 40% of the world’s adult population was deemed overweight.
  • And obesity is preventable.

Planning Ahead

Used tactically, and as part of a generally healthy and balanced diet, snacks can help to manage hunger and reduce the likelihood of bingeing, at mealtimes. But it really does pay to plan ahead. Why not try pulling together a menu of easily-prepared snacks, that the whole family will love, and that can be enjoyed on a myriad of snacking occasions? Think lunchboxes, pre-exercise pick-me-ups, breakfast on-the-run...

Healthy Choices

Naturally, it makes nutritional sense – apart from when having a very occasional treat – to make healthy choices, to avoid snacks that are high in added sugar, fat and salt. We do understand, though, that it can be tricky to work out what is healthy and what isn’t when it comes to snacks. For example, processed fruit snacks – some of which actually have added sugar - are blurring the boundary between confectionery and traditional, unprocessed dried fruits. But the great news is that sweet and tasty treats are far from being an absolute no-no. “Traditional dried fruits have historically been considered a nutritious snack choice in parts of the world where abundant sunshine enabled drying fruits for preservation, such as the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East. They all provide dietary fibre, are virtually fat and salt-free and each provide a range of essential micronutrients, such as potassium, copper, manganese, iron and vitamins A, E, K and niacin.”, says Jennette Higgs, Consultant Dietitian at the California Prune Board.

Recipe Ideas

And prunes are an excellent example of these traditional dried fruits. They can be enjoyed on their own, straight from the pack, but they’re also the basis for a whole host of super-satisfying goodies. Our website is a brilliant resource with countless healthy-snacking recipe ideas. Why not have a look and bookmark a few that take your fancy? And if you’re a YouTube kind of person, check out our video for a step-by-step guide to making Energy Balls. They’re perfectly portable, flavour-packed and sure to be a big hit with the whole family!

Mums-to-Be

And did you know that snacking is especially important for mums-to-be? It can:

  • Boost those flagging energy levels
  • Help to keep nausea at bay
  • And, when high-fibre options are chosen, help to alleviate constipation

Why not take a look at our dedicated pregnancy website for lots more hints and tips?

Please Note: Prunes are good for digestion and help keep you regular, when 100g are eaten as part of a varied and balanced diet and an active lifestyle. Always consult a GP if you have any health concerns.

Join us as we celebrate 100 years of history!

Posted by Sunsweet - Wednesday, April 19, 2017

For an entire century, Sunsweet has been inspiring consumers to eat well and to enjoy a healthy, balanced lifestyle. The company has a rich heritage and deep roots within the growers’ valley of California. But where did it all start?

Once upon a time in California…

Believe it or not, the Sunsweet story began with just one man, Louis Pellier, who imported prune orchard stock from France to California. Louis Pellier introduced Agen prunes to the region in 1850. But it wasn’t until 1917 that Sunsweet was formed. A group of farmers founded and named it the Sunsweet California Prune and Apricot Growers Association. In that first year alone, they handled 43% of the state crop. Today, the company is 250 growers strong, producing 40,000 cases of fruit and juice every single day and exporting to more than 45 countries around the world. In fact, the Sunsweet Growers, as it is now known, is one of the world’s most successful agricultural cooperatives!

Generational Experience and Innovation

Many growers within the cooperative are from family businesses and bring generations of expertise to the craft of cultivating prunes. While building on learnings from the past, Sunsweet has always had an eye on the future too, striving for innovation and improvement. In 1966, for example, Sunsweet patented a unique pitting system. No other prunes in the world are pitted with the same precision and care as Sunsweet prunes, resulting in fruit that is rounder, plumper and more flavourful. The ‘Smart Pitter’ has been improved over the years and remains patented to this day. No doubt, the original Sunsweet farmers, of 1917, would be proud that their cooperative continues to grow, innovate, improve and deliver the best prunes possible to customers.

When plums are dried into prunes, the dehydration concentrates their flavour. The prune becomes about one third of its original size but retains its nutritional value. Did you know that Sunsweet prunes:

  • Contain just over 7g fibre per 100g, that’s about a quarter of your daily needs.
  • Are a source of vitamins like B6 that can help you feel less tired and Vitamin K that supports the maintenance of normal bones.
  • Count towards your 5-a-day with just 4/5 prunes classed as a serving.

A very special place

Sunsweet growers know good farmland when they see it. Sunsweet prune plum orchards are only planted, in the rich soil of lush regions, with rain-free summers and cool but not freezing winters. There are only a handful of places like that on earth and the birthplace of the Sunsweet prune - the San Joaquin Valley - is one of the very best.

It goes without saying, that Sunsweet farmers have strong ties to the land and so it’s only natural for them to be committed to the preservation of nature and to lead the way in green innovation. You can find out more about Sunsweet’s green credentials on the website.

A very special company

Despite the passing of 100 years, Sunsweet’s passion for all-things prune has remained undiminished. The company has an award-winning commitment to quality and customer service and is always investing to ensure the best quality prunes in the world. And the good news for you? All of these measures help Sunsweet to grow prunes that are deliciously plump, succulent and tasty for you to enjoy.

Here’s to the next 100 years!

Please Note: Prunes are good for digestion and help keep you regular, when 100g are eaten as part of a varied and balanced diet and an active lifestyle. Always consult a GP if you have any health concerns.

Entertaining this Easter? Our Beetroot Carpaccio with Fried Bacon Prunes makes a pretty starter!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, April 13, 2017

When it comes to entertaining, it’s handy to have a trick or two up your sleeve. Our Beetroot Carpaccio with Fried Bacon Prunes is more of an assembly job than a recipe – but it couldn’t look prettier and more impressive on the plate! Make sure you slice the beetroot finely and cook the bacon till it has a bit of crunch. The contrasting textures will combine to create a super-tasty starter.

Ingredients


125 g kitchen-ready small-leaved lamb’s lettuce
500 g precooked skinned beetroot
Freshly ground black pepper
150 g Feta
7-8 slices of bacon (125 g) (alternative: Pancetta)
100 g Sunsweet prunes
50-60 ml lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Wash lamb’s lettuce, thoroughly drip dry. Cut beetroot into wafer-thin slices, place on 4 large plates and sprinkle with a little pepper. Put lamb’s lettuce around the edges of beetroot. Crumble Feta over this.
  2. Cut bacon into 2 cm wide pieces. Halve prunes. Fry bacon in a coated pan at medium heat without adding any fat until light brown and slightly crunchy. Remove pan from stove. Add prunes, briefly stir fry and heat. Immediately spread everything with the exuded fat and arrange widely on the beetroot and lamb’s lettuce. Sprinkle with lemon juice and immediately serve.

Tip: Ciabatta or wheat bread goes well with this.

Refining: additionally sprinkle salad with Crema di Balsamico balsamic vinegar, if necessary also instead of lemon juice.

Spring into a Healthier Lifestyle

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, April 06, 2017

Spring has well and truly sprung and the Easter holidays are very nearly upon us. This is a time of year when many of us - over the long, bank-holiday weekends - can take a well-earned break and enjoy the (hopefully!) improved weather. There really is no better season than the spring for laying new foundations for a healthier lifestyle for the months to come.

Outdoor Fun

The onset of brighter and warmer and longer days makes the great outdoors feel even more appealing than ever. Having the support of your friends and family is a very strong motivator for getting – and staying – active. But, let’s face it, getting active with a gaggle of buddies is just more fun! Exercise really doesn’t feel like exercise when it involves gathering together a fun-loving group – the more the merrier - and larking about outside. All you need to do is tailor your activities to suit the age and agility of your group and get stuck in. From horse-riding to hide and seek. From golf to geocaching. From tree-climbing to tennis. From surfing to sand-castle building. The only real rules? Have lots and lots of fun!

Our top three tips for alfresco exercise:

  1. Ring the Changes:

    Get together with your getting-active group – ahead of time - to brainstorm ideas for activities, to keep things fresh and fun.

  2. Get Scheduling:

    Synchronise calendars, set a date and a time and stick to it – no matter what the weather. A few spots of rain should definitely not stop play!

  3. Fuel the Fun:

    There’s nothing like exercising out-of-doors to work up an appetite! Why not check out our recipes pages for a whole host of yummy and portable, prune-related ideas?

Rainy Day Activities

And if the weather lets you down? Buzz on over to our Easter section where you’ll find a trio of Easter-themed projects to choose from. Kids of all ages will just love our colourful craft activities. There are printable templates and easy-to-follow instructions to create Baby Chick Easter Decorations, Bunny Rabbit Pen and Pencil Holders and Bunny Boxes. And if you find yourself with some spare time over the bank-holiday weekend? You could always rustle up a batch of sweeties – check out our recipe pages for inspiration – and present them, as gifts, in one of our Bunny Boxes.

Competition Time

If you’re not in it, you can’t win it! Be sure to enter our competition to win an exclusive Sunsweet-branded recliner, while there’s still time. Our fabulous pink Sunsweet recliner is just perfect for relaxing in the garden, as the warmer weather arrives. And you’ll be the envy of your poolside pals if you take it away with you to even sunnier climes, this summer. Good luck!

Our Spicy Cranberry Prune Mocktail is a delicious drink with a real sense of occasion!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, March 23, 2017

The flavours of ginger and lime combine to add zing to this delicious mocktail. The whole family are sure to love this non-alcoholic Spicy Cranberry Prune Mocktail. It’s a delicious drink with a real sense of occasion. Serve over ice, in your prettiest glasses, and let the good times roll!

Ingredients

100 g raspberries (fresh or frozen)
200-250 g crushed ice
200 ml Sunsweet prune juice
200 ml cranberry juice
4-8 teaspoons lime juice
200-300 ml ginger lemonade
(alternative: mix ginger ale either with 1-2 tbsp. ginger juice or 1 tablespoon grated ginger)

For decoration:
1 piece (approx. 3-4 cm) ginger root

In addition:
4 long drink glasses
4 long thick straws

Instructions

  1. Divide raspberries and crushed ice into 4 portions in long drink glasses. Mix prune juice, cranberry and lime juice, and pour them into glasses. Fill with ginger lemonade. Stick straws in the glasses. If desired, wash ginger, cut it into 4-8 slanting thin slices and add as decoration. Serve immediately.

Cocktail variant: add 20-40 ml gin.

Prunes – the surprising star of the kitchen!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, March 16, 2017

There’s nothing humble about prunes. In fact, when it comes to stocking up on convenient, long-life and yet completely natural foodstuffs, prunes deserve to take pride of place on your shopping list.

The fruits are surprisingly versatile. They can be enjoyed by the handful, straight from the pack. They can be whizzed – either on their own or with ingredients like cocoa powder and ground nuts – to make super-tasty toast-toppers. They can be used to lend sweetness and depth to the flavour of your family’s favourite fruit smoothies. And they can also make a delicious and nutritious addition to a range of more elaborate dishes, both sweet and savoury.

Healthier Treats

As we all know, a life without treats is a life that’s, well, a little bit miserable! So it’s good to know that prunes can make a sweet and tasty foundation for a range of healthier nibbles. Trail mix – combining nuts and seeds and dried fruit – couldn’t be simpler to prepare. Prunes can be added to baked family favourites, like flapjack, to boost their nutritional value. And did you know that prunes can even be used to replace the sugar and fats in recipes for bakes? Tests by the California Prune Board – that swapped refined sugar for prune puree in a range of recipes – reduced the overall sugar content by up to 35%. And prune puree can be used as a replacement for butter, too. The fruit – with its caramelized flavour and overtones of vanilla - lends itself particularly well to chocolate recipes. Just swap the butter for prune puree - weight for weight - and enjoy!

Super Savouries

Sunsweet prunes have a delicious fruitiness that enhances many other flavours. They are a classic complement to a range of meat dishes – delicious with pork and perfect with game, for example – and they can add texture, moistness and a depth and richness of flavour. Combined with teriyaki sauce in a marinade, prune juice helps to transform ribs into melt-in-the-mouth scrumminess. And prunes are a useful addition to that staple of every family’s meal-time repertoire: the mid-week one-pot supper. Think Spicy Squash Soup with Chorizo and Prunes. Think Beef Stew with seasonable root veg and flavourful prunes. Simply delicious!

Whether you’re looking for a super-quick snack, an elaborate feast, or something in-between, prunes are an excellent starting point. There are lots of ways to include delicious and nutritious Sunsweet prunes - and their juice - in your everyday diet. So why not keep a pack or two handy, in the store cupboard?

Feeling inspired? Why not get creative in the kitchen and try some of our delicious recipe ideas?

Please Note: Prunes are good for digestion and help keep you regular, when 100g are eaten as part of a varied and balanced diet and an active lifestyle. Always consult a GP if you have any health concerns.

Raspberry Prune Frozen Yoghurt, a super-healthy alternative to ice-cream!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, March 09, 2017

We all crave a sweet treat, at times. And yet opting for refined sugar and fat-laden versions can leave us feeling sluggish and guilty. So say “hello” to our Raspberry Prune Frozen Yoghurt. It’s a super-healthy alternative to ice-cream. And with just three ingredients – raspberries, yogurt and prunes – this delicious treat couldn’t be more simple to make.

Ingredients

200 g natural yoghurt, mild (3.5 % fat)
100-125 g Sunsweet prunes
250 g frozen raspberries, unthawed

If desired:
4 waffles

Instructions

  1. First put yoghurt and then prunes and raspberries into the beaker of a smoothie mixer. First mix at slow speed, then finely mix at medium speed, repeatedly pushing the raspberries downwards with the pestle. If the ice cream is not firm enough, divide the mass into portions in dessert glasses and leave to refreeze for 30 to 60 minutes in the freezer. Otherwise, immediately divide the mass into portions in dessert glasses or if desired divide into portions in ice cream waffles.

Vegan variant: soya yoghurt can be used instead of yoghurt.

Tip: a powerful smoothie mixer makes the ice cream particularly creamy. A hand-held blender is only suitable to a certain extent. If there is only a hand-held blender available, first thaw raspberries, then finely mix all ingredients together. Freeze the mass in an ice cream maker (in accordance with operating instructions) or let it freeze in the freezer. For freezing, divide the mass into portions in 4 silicone muffin moulds and place in the freezer for 1-3 hours (do not let the mass get too hard). Before serving, remove pieces of ice cream from the moulds and put them on a plate. 


It’s Spring – and there’s a sense of celebration in the air!

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, March 02, 2017

Don’t forget that the clocks change on the 26th March. What better excuse is there to burst out of hibernation, to shake off the very last dregs of winter sluggishness and to spring forward with confidence and positivity and gratitude?

There really is something so special about the beginning of the spring. It just seems to feel like the perfect season to take a fresh look at our daily routines, to make the small adjustments that are needed to get our health and our wellbeing goals back on track and to take the time out to really celebrate the results.

Life is for living, after all. It’s certainly way too short and too precious to get hung up on counting every calorie or to beat yourself up for skipping a session at the gym. At the end of the day, if our diets are generally healthy with just the occasional well-earned treat and our lifestyles are generally active with just the occasional couch-potato day, we’re actually not doing too badly. And being able to enjoy a busy and vibrant life – fuelled by a varied and nutritious diet – is something to celebrate!

In California – the home of Sunsweet’s extensive prune plum orchards – the spring is a particularly beautiful time of the year. In early March, the orchards become covered in a fragrant blanket of pretty, white blossoms. It’s a truly magical sight! But the beauty is as short-lived as it is spectacular. After just a week or so, the blossoms gently drift to the ground and the orchards’ palette shifts to a deep chartreuse as new fruit forms and tender leaf buds burst.

And that leads us neatly on to new beginnings… It’s hard to believe that it’s one hundred years since the Sunsweet Growers Association was founded making this year a really special one for us, as we’ll be celebrating our centenary! The original Sunsweet farmers were passionate about delivering delicious and nourishing prunes of the very highest quality. And we think that they would be very proud of the fact that the Sunsweet brand is now enjoyed in more than 45 countries and that their legacy - of delivering the best possible prunes to customers – continues. If you’re interested in finding out more, you can watch the fascinating Sunsweet story.  Let the festivities begin!

And last – but by no means least - March offers us two opportunities to celebrate the special women in our lives. The 8th March is International Women’s Day followed by Mother’s Day on the 26th March. Our recipe pages are packed with yummy ideas for starters and mains, puddings and treats. We hope that they’ll prove inspirational for you, as you plan all those special, celebratory meals. Bon appetit!

And Happy Spring!

Please Note: Prunes are good for digestion and help keep you regular, when 100g are eaten as part of a varied and balanced diet and an active lifestyle. Always consult a GP if you have any health concerns.

Spicy Squash Soup with Chorizo

Posted by Sunsweet - Thursday, February 23, 2017

The very best soups fill the house with tempting aromas as they cook: our Spicy Squash Soup with Chorizo is no exception! Ginger, rosemary and smoked paprika combine to tempt the taste-buds. With squash, chorizo and scrummy Sunsweet prunes, this is a hearty and flavourful recipe just perfect for still-chilly February.

Ingredients

600 g butternut squash
30 g ginger root 2 onions
3 tbsp. oil
2 tbsp. smoked paprika powder
300 ml white wine
400 ml chicken stock  
4 chorizo sausages (Spanish paprika sausage)
200 g Sunsweet prunes
30 g pumpkin seeds
2 sprigs of rosemary
3 tbsp. sour cream
Salt, pepper

Instructions

  1. Peel squash and ginger and dice finely. Dice the onions into large pieces. Heat oil in a pot, add squash, onions, paprika powder and ginger and sauté for 5 minutes. Deglaze with white wine and stock and boil at a medium heat for 15 minutes. Cut chorizo sausage into slices. Cut prunes into large pieces. Toast pumpkin seeds in a dry pan.
  2. Grind squash in a blender. Season with salt and pepper to taste, add prunes and keep hot. Fry chorizo slices in a dry pan for 5 minutes on each side at a medium heat. Chop rosemary and sprinkle onto the sausage.
  3. Pour soup into a bowl. Serve with sausage, sour cream and pumpkin seeds.

Tip: Optionally sprinkle some of the chorizo oil from the pan onto the soup.