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6 Different Types of Prunes

Photo collage of prunes; Turkish tea; Provence market

Quicklist: Prunes

  1. Improved French
  2. Sutter
  3. Tulare Giant
  4. Moyer
  5. Imperial
  6. Green Gage

What Are Prunes?

While there is often some confusion about their identity, prunes are essentially just dried plums. The thing is, that while all prunes are dried plums — not all plums are destined to be prunes.

Unless you’re drying them out yourself, the prunes you’ll find sold at the store are made from a type of plum, specifically cultivated to be dried into prunes.

Related: Types of Avocadoes | Types of Peaches | Types of Grapes | Types of Nectarines | Indoor Fruit Trees | Types of Fruit Trees | Characteristics of the Common Pear Tree

In fact, they come from different varieties than the ones that grow your average plum. This is because prune cultivars are grown specifically so that it’s easier to remove the pit.

Fresh and dried plum in a wooden bowl.

While prunes are often associated with older folks keeping their gastro-intestinal systems flowing, they’re much more than that.

Prunes have incredible health properties and are just as enjoyable eaten alone as a delicious snack, as they are cooked, stewed or added as a sweet accoutrement to a roast. Writer Genevieve Fullan dishes on their superiority as a dried fruit option “In Defense of Prunes.”

Prunes You’re Likely to Encounter (and One You’re Not)

There are over 1,000 different varieties of plums that have been specifically engineered for drying into prunes. While I won’t be covering them all, here are the most common cultivars you’re likely to find, and one slightly rarer one that makes for a great option if you’re looking to start growing your own plums.

1. Improved French

A heap of Improved French prune.

California produces 99% of US prunes and 70% of the world’s commercial crops in the Central Valley.

And almost 99% of California prunes can trace their roots back to Pruneaux d’Agen rootstock, which French horticulturist Louis Pellier brought to California in 1856, and grafted on to wild plum trees growing in the rich valley soil near Mission San Jose.

The French Improved Prune, developed by California growers, is the most popular prune varietal grown in the states. Fully ripening on orchard trees in August, the fruit has reddish purple skin and honey-colored, deliciously sweet flesh. The taste is rich and succulently sweet, with notes bordering on vanilla.

French improved prunes are self fertile trees but they grow larger and healthier if planted alongside a second tree. One mature tree can produce 150 to 300 pounds of raw fruit per year. 

2. Sutter

Sutter dried plum on a small cloth sack.

The Sutter prune was developed by the University of California’s Dried Plum and Prune Cultivation Improvement Program (which is totally a real thing), and was explicitly developed as a competitor to the Improved French Prune.

Much redder in hue, the Sutter plum averages a higher sugar content than the Improved French and also has the additional benefit of maturing about seven to 10 days quicker, which helps growers manage the harvesting and drying phases over a longer period.

3. Tulare Giant

Whole Tulare Giant dried plum.

Another alumnus of the University of California’s Dried Plum and Prune Cultivation Improvement Program — which will henceforth be referred to in this article with a more convenient acronym: The UoCDPPCIP — the Tulare Giant is a cross of the Empress and Primacote varieties of European plum.

Unlike the previous two, this tree is not self fertile. The fruit is substantially larger than the Improved French, and while it has been used to dry into prunes, it was not originally intended to be since the pit on the Tulare Giant is still quite large.

Nevertheless prunes of this type can still be found out and about, and they taste absolutely phenomenal.

4. Moyer

Moyer prune and fresh moyer plum.

Moyer plums are also popular for drying. Italian in origin, they produce a hefty prune. The original fruit has a gorgeous orange flesh and is outstanding as both a fresh plum or enjoyed dried into prunes.

They have reddish skin and the tree flowers more often than most, bearing a large crop. Moyer plums are a little more tart, and make delicious prunes.

5. Imperial

The Imperial, or Imperial Epineuse Plum is a prune plum that is particularly notable for the fact that its plums don’t require a “lye dip.” While it depends on the method of the drier, most prunes are briefly dipped in lye as part of the drying process, which cracks the skin and helps the prune retain sugar.

The Imperial does not need a lye dip and can be dried right off the tree with no extra prep. This purple pruning plum is not to be confused with the Imperial Gage, a very juicy and sweet plum with green, yellow-tinted skin.

Imperial Gage trees crop very reliably and their plums can also be used to make prunes, though the end product Gage Plum won’t be anywhere near as specialised as an Epineuse.

6. Green Gage

Green Gage dried plum on a white background.

Once the king of prunes, this variety was the most prolific species across Europe and the United States in the 19th and early 20th centuries. While many people claim to grow them, the true Green Gage is headed for extinction in North America.

This is a result of cross-breeding to try and mitigate their general fragility, a quality which makes them hard to cultivate as a commercial plum, and equally difficult for large-scale drying into prunes.

Nevertheless, if you have an interest in growing your own plums, they should pose no trouble at all for the home gardener, and true Green Gage plum stock can be found in North America with a little bit of research.

The resulting prunes are some of the most delicious and coveted, so the Green Gage makes for a phenomenal home orchard tree.

Top Brands of Prunes

Anna and Sarah

Anna and Sarah prunes.

The prunes offered by Anna and Sarah offer a nice energy boost while providing extensive nutritional value and an unmatched natural sweetness. Rich in antioxidants and high in fiber, Anna and Sarah’s pitted prunes are always an excellent option to mitigate food cravings.

Made in Nature

Made in Nature prunes.

The naturally sweet but delicious dried prunes from Made in Nature are sweet and soft, making them the ideal snack. Each serving is only 110 calories and contains 2g of dietary fiber.

These prunes come from unsulfured plums that are sun-dried and organically grown in California for the ultimate guilt-free snack. Additionally, Made in Nature prunes are gluten free, non-GMO and certified organic.

Member’s Mark

Member’s Mark prunes.

Member’s Mark prunes are a non-GMO product grown in California. With 2.5 pounds bags, these are ideal to snack directly from the resealable bag or add to fruit salad, oatmeal or cereal.

Nut Cravings

Nut Cravings prunes.

Nut Cravings offers an excellent pitted and unsweetened prune snack with no added sugar. These versatile treats are ideal for solo healthy snacking or to add to delicious recipes like cakes, prunes wrapped in prosciutto, smoothies, or oatmeal breakfasts.

Nut Cravings starts this product with sweet plums plucked from the trees when ripe. Then, instead of completely drying them, the company ensures some moisture is retained, so the result is juicy!


Sun-Maid prunes.

Sun-Maid is a well-known brand for its other dried fruits, especially raisins. The prunes this brand offers maintain consistent quality as expected and are OK Kosher certified. Additionally, Sun-Maid’s prunes are non-GMO verified and have zero added sugar.

It’s Delish

Its Delish prunes are available in one- and two-pound bags and five and ten pounds for those who like to buy in bulk. These naturally sweet, pitted prunes are excellent for mixed fruit, gift trays, snacking, and baking.

In addition, It’s Delish prunes deliver a healthy and tasty source of vitamin A and fiber and hold the certified Kosher OI Packaged in the USA assignment.

Where to Buy Prunes

Bella Viva Orchards

Bella Viva Orchards.

This family farm and orchard is located in California’s Central Valley and produces a wide range of delectable, dried fruits and crunchy nuts. They also sell fresh fruit and chocolate to customers online all over the nation as well as in certain restaurants and farmer’s markets in Northern California.

Bella Viva Orchards sells delicious prunes as well as a range of other dried fruits including cherries, peaches, pears, apricots, apples, figs and others. The orchard has been a Certified Organic Fruit Grower since 2006 and a Certified Organic Fruit Dry Yard since 2008.

The company is consistently adding to its inventory of fresh and dried fruit and they tend to update its inventory each season. You can order online and have everything shipped directly to your door.

While this online retailer specializes in selling nuts of all kinds, don’t let the name fool you. They also sell a wide variety of prunes (or dried plums) in a unique assortment of variations.

Look for seedless prunes (or pitted prunes), pluots, organic dried plums, jumbo dried prunes, and dried Angelino plums. Not only does sell dried fruit and nuts, but they also sell superfood powders, gift sets, coffee and tea, and a whole lot more.

If you’re looking for prunes and other delicious snacks, this is a great online retailer to try. The company has been doing business since 1929 and continues to be a family-run operation today, although they’ve expanded quite a bit since the availability of the internet.


Sunsweet Amazin Prunes, Dried Pitted | Gluten Free, Vegan, Low Fat, Unsweetened, Unsulfured, No Added Sugar, Whole Food Snacks | Dietary Fiber + other Natural Minerals | 16 oz Canister - 3 Pack

Sunsweet is known for its delicious prunes and has been making them for decades. Every prune they make goes through a rigorous pitting process that takes the pit out without damaging the fruit. Sunsweet claims that this process locks in maximum flavor and seals in beneficial nutrients.

The prunes are also beautifully shaped and have just the right texture. You can find Sunsweet prunes online at the company’s website, in almost every grocery store, and on

The company also sells individually wrapped prunes to take with you on the go, diced prunes that you can add to salads and your favorite recipes, and its line of D’Noir Prunes. These prunes are made without any added preservatives and are best stored in the refrigerator to maintain freshness.

Looney Pruney

Looney Pruney Pitted Dried Prunes for the Entire Family | Always California-Grown | Kosher | No Added Sugar & No Preservatives (40 oz)

Looney Pruney says it offers “pitted dried prunes for the entire family” with no added sugar or preservatives. The prunes are exclusively grown in California and packed with fiber and antioxidants.

According to the brand, prunes can help to support good eye and vision health, aid in healthy digestion, and help you maintain strong bones. These prunes are marketed to the whole family and can give kids energy that helps them stay focused in a healthy way.

Prunes are a great source of fiber for adults and kids, and these prunes are a good way to replace unhealthy, sugary snacks and sweet desserts with something satisfying and healthy.

All prunes from Looney Pruney are packed in resealable bags to keep them fresh and so you can take them with you when you’re on the go. Every bag is harvested from the company’s family-owned and operated orchard.

Sunny Fruit

ORGANIC Prunes - Sunny Fruit - 40oz Bulk Bag (2.5lb) | Purely Dried Plums - NO Added Sugars, Sulfurs or Preservatives | NON-GMO, VEGAN & HALAL

Sunny Fruit is a small business that markets its prunes as “organic dried plums” that are harvested from fertile soils in a unique Argentinian climate. The brand claims that they sell “the most perfect, nutrient-rich, organic and vegan dried prunes on earth.”

These prunes come from organically grown plums that are sun-dried to give them an ideal level of sweetness. They’re a nutrient-rich snack that’s filled with healthy fiber, antioxidants, potassium, and magnesium and contain no added sugars, syrups, or sulfurs.

Each batch is rehydrated and lightly pasteurized to avoid using preservatives and harsh chemicals. Take a bag with you for a healthy snack on the go. These organic prunes are also a wonderful addition to a gift basket, a nice cheese board, or mixed with granola and yogurt.

You can also add them to a smoothie, use them in baked goods as a replacement for raisins, or just eat them right out of the bag. Sunny Fruit provides customers with a money-back guarantee.

If you’re not thrilled with your prunes, simply let the company know and you will receive your money back in full with no questions asked. You can find Sunny Fruit prunes on Amazon, at select grocery stores, or directly at the brand’s website online.

What Are the Benefits of Prunes?

A woman eating dried plum.

Prunes are one of those fruits that rides the border between normal dried fruit and medicinal wonderdrug. Packed full of great nutrients, prunes contain over 15 essential vitamins and nutrients, such as vitamins A, K, B2, B3, potassium, copper and manganese, to name a few. 

Below are some of the main benefits of prunes:

Relieve Symptoms of Constipation

Prunes are an age-old, reliable means of getting things flowing again if, God forbid, you ever come up against a pesky bout of constipation. This borderline magical quality is a result of the high-fiber content.

Fiber is not water soluble and as a result, the fiber adds bulk to stool which is thought to speed up the rate at which the digestive tract processes waste.

On top of the fiber, prunes have the additional benefit of containing sorbitol, which is a sugar alcohol known to produce laxative effects when ingested.

Prune juice is particularly effective because in addition to all the benefits of prunes, the process of juicing prunes is completed by steaming them. This steaming releases the chemical dihydrophenylisatin, which is a natural laxative and is useful for regulating muscle contractions.


Prunes and their popular parent, plums, are practically pulsing with polyphenol antioxidants which are proven to have positive effects on bone health and have been linked to reductions in heart disease and reduced incidence of diabetes.

Antioxidants in general are great for reducing inflammation and keeping cells healthy. Lab tests have shown that the specific antioxidants in plums are particularly powerful and effective in preventing lung and joint disease in rats and mice, though extensive prune testing hasn’t been carried out on humans in a lab environment.

Useful in Helping Regulate Blood Sugar

Despite being sweet and replete with carbohydrates, plums have been shown not to cause a large spike in blood sugar after being consumed. This makes them a good option for regulating blood sugar levels, and has been linked to lower incidence of Type 2 diabetes.

The main cause for this is likely the high levels of adiponectin found in plums, a protein hormone that in humans, is released by adipose tissues in the body. Adiponectin is used to regulate blood sugar and has been associated with weight loss making prunes a great option as a healthy snack.

Bone Health

Prunes are great for your bones and have been associated with reduced bone loss. They have also been found to aid in maintaining healthy bone density. This is a result of the high levels of vitamin K found in prunes, as well as the presence of those polyphenol antioxidants mentioned earlier.

Photo of plums drying into prunes

Drying plums into prunes at a high temperature in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Are There Any Risks Associated with Eating a Lot of Prunes?

While all the medicinal benefits may tempt you to start shovelling prunes down as fast as possible, caution is advised. With great power comes great potency and it’s easy to overdo it and give yourself too much of a good thing.

Recommendations vary, but in general I’d avoid eating more than 50 grams of prunes in a day —which amount to five or six — and a lot less if you’re particularly sensitive to them. Here are the main things you want to watch out for before embracing the prune as a dietary staple with reckless abandon:

Gastrointestinal Distress

The prune’s revered status as a natural laxative can be a bit of a double-edged sword if you overdo it. Some people can be quite sensitive to the sorbitol found in prunes, which can lead to bloating, cramps, nausea and even vomiting.

Prunes have just under 15 grams of sorbitol per hundred grams, and only five grams of sorbitol is enough to elicit symptoms of bloating in some people.

Given this, it’s prudent to err on the side of less is more with prunes, and not to overdo it if you have a history of stomach distress from other fibrous dried fruits like raisins, figs or apricots.


While not true across the board, it’s worth noting that not all prunes are created equal. When dried at high temperatures, some prunes develop a chemical in them known as Acrylamide which is the byproduct of an interaction between the sugars in plums and an amino acid called asparagine.

Not all prunes are full of this, and most are dried at lower temperatures to avoid this from happening, but it’s worth knowing that Acrylamide can increase your risk of getting certain cancers.

As a result, be sure to read the label when buying prunes to ensure they’re high quality and have been dried at low temperatures.

How to Dry Your Own

Slices of plum being dried on a screen.

Okay, now that we’ve covered all the benefits of prunes and the drawbacks associated with eating way too many of them — here’s a quick guide on making your very own!

This is assuming that you don’t have a food dehydrator because, well, I don’t have one nor do I know anyone who does.

That said if you do have one, it’s apparently easier to do, although making this process any easier is hard to imagine since the drying process is a piece of cake and all you need is a knife and an oven — and some plums, of course.

  1. Start by pitting your plums. There are no shortcuts unless you want to invest in an industrial plum pitter, just cut two slits on one side from top to bottom, and fiddle it out. With a little trial and error you’ll be a master in no time. Most plums are freestone so the flesh doesn’t cling to the pit. I like to pinch the stones out, toothpaste squeezing style but find what works for you.
  2. Get a rack and place all your plums with the cut part face down so that the juices can leak out. You’ll want to put a tray with a baking sheet underneath the rack to collect all the juices, otherwise you’re going to have a hell of a time cleaning your oven.
  3. Put them in the oven on convection mode, set to 180°Fahrenheit / 200°Fahrenheit, depending on how much time you’re willing to spend. The lower the better in general for drying fruit, but at 200°Fahrenheitit’ll still be about eight hours to get them dried but still fairly juicy.

Once they’re in, keep tabs on them and see what you like. If you want them a little juicier you can take them out earlier.

Since these won’t contain the preservatives used on store bought prunes, be sure to keep them in the fridge or freeze them if you’re not going to eat them quickly since they will be susceptible to mold.