What exactly is a prune?
It’s simple, really. Sunsweet prunes are a special variety of sun-ripened plums that have been dried to remove some of the water.
A variety with an exceptionally high sugar content, these "Improved French" variety of plums give Sunsweet prunes their distinctively delicious taste; rich and fruity with notes of creamy vanilla. Naturally sweet, there’s simply no need for any added sugar or sweeteners in our prunes.
The dried fruit contains similar levels of nutrients – such as fibre - to fresh plums, while offering you the added benefit of year-round availability and a long shelf life.
For our growers, patience is a virtue that is richly rewarded. It can take up to six years for a prune plum tree to bear fruit. But, after that, it will fruit for some 30 years.
Prunes are one of the few commercially available fruits that are allowed to tree-ripen before harvesting. And, because we have almost a century’s worth of experience, our growers have become experts at assessing the optimum moment for picking. By late summer, the fruit’s firmness and sugar content have reached perfection. The orchard-ripe plums are harvested straight from the tree and never touch the ground. Within 24 hours they are washed in spring water and placed on wooden trays. They are carefully dried, which concentrates their flavour and texture, without losing any of the goodness of the fresh fruit!
Sunsweet – our enduring passion for prunesPrune d’Agen – the variety of plum originally used at Sunsweet - was introduced to Europe, from Asia, in the 15th century. French nurseryman, Louis Pellier, is credited with bringing the fruit to California.
Louis Pellier arrived in America during the gold rush, in the 1850s. And when he didn’t strike it rich, panning for gold, he decided to try his luck – and make his fortune – by growing produce instead. Louis imported prune plums from his native Agen in France to his new home, in California. To give them the best chance of survival, during their long journey over the seas, each of the fruit tree cuttings was painstakingly packaged by being stuck into potatoes before being further protected by sawdust and carefully packed into trunks. The careful handling paid off; the cuttings flourished in the fertile valleys under the warm Californian sunshine.
Today’s California prune is little changed from Pellier’s early trees. The dominant variety is Improved French, a cultivar developed by famed horticulturist Luther Burbank using Pellier’s stock. Burbank spent 40 years perfecting his prune, introduced to growers in the early 1900s.Sunsweet was founded, in 1917, as the California Prune and Apricot Growers Association. Almost a century later, the association has grown into one of the world’s most successful agricultural cooperatives; processing and marketing dried fruit from more than 300 grower-members.
California – the home of Sunsweet – now accounts for a third of the world’s prune production. We’re proud to say that Sunsweet – after working hard, for decades, to exacting quality standards – is now the world’s favourite prune brand, trusted and enjoyed around the globe.Learn more about our History - Sunsweet, birth of a legend