Dried Fruit; A Pantry Staple Begging To Be Explored
On a recent agricultural tour of the San Joaquin Valley, our team of California Grown Creators visited the Madera Fossil Discovery Center where we had breakfast underneath a giant mammoth! Our hosts, the California Dried Fruit Coalition, provided an incredible dried fruit-inspired feast that was truly a delight for the senses.
Dried fruit is basically Mother Nature’s fruit snack and is amazing in sweet and savory dishes. Did you know that the recommended daily serving of fruit for a 2,000-calorie diet is 2 cups? It’s true! I’m 100% sure I am not eating my quota and I’m betting that you may not be either, but there is no easier way to eat your share than by nibbling on dried fruit.
What are the benefits of dried fruit?
- Easy to prepare with little or no waste.
- Perfect for grab-and-go snacks and lunches, plus a source of all-natural energy.
- A source of readily absorbable antioxidants and fiber for heart, digestive and colon health while improving cholesterol levels.
Who is the California Dried Fruit Coalition and what exactly do they do?
The California Dried Fruit Coalition; working together for a great cause.
The California Dried Fruit Coalition (CDFC) was created by the raisin, dried plum, dried fig, and date industries. They promote the nutritional value and versatility of dried fruits to policymakers who influence food purchase decisions for schools and food service agencies.
Mother Nature’s finest fruit snacks; 4 types of dried fruit with real pantry power!
The state of California is one of the biggest fruit and nut producers in the country, and over 250 of the 400+ specialty crops grown in the Golden State are produced in the San Joaquin Valley. This area is an essential component to California’s agricultural industry.
Let’s look more in-depth into each of the 4 types of dried fruit represented by the CDFC.
It’s the long growing seasons in California’s lush valleys that make this area perfect for growing the legendary Petit d’Agen plum. The rich soil in the San Joaquin Valley is warmed during the day by steady sun and cooled at night with the chilly evening temperatures.
Here is a fun dried fig fact for you: 100% of dried figs and 98% of fresh figs grown commercially in the U.S. are from California.
True or False – there are sometimes wasps inside of figs. Figs are technically an inverted flower, not a fruit. That means pollination is needed for figs to survive.
However, 99% of California Grown Figs are self-pollinating – so, no wasps!
Over 2,000 California Raisin growers produce 100% of the U.S. raisins -all within a 60 mile radius of Fresno, California in the central San Joaquin Valley.
Dried in the warm California sunshine, raisins are sweet by nature which means they are perfect for solo snacking or for adding into your favorite recipes.
People have been eating dates for thousands of years! They are packed with essential nutrients, give a boost of energy, and are a good source of fiber.
It is an old saying that the date palm must have “its head in the sun and its feet in water”. This refers to the fact that date palms need high heat, low humidity, and a constant source of ground water to produce fruit. Date palms thrive, therefore, only in the world’s few desert regions.
But what do fossils have to do with dried fruit?
Actually, fossils, or rather the soil that surrounds the fossil, have a lot to do with dried fruit. The rich soil that sustains over 250 of the 400+ specialty crops grown right here in the fertile San Joaquin Valley soil was also home to diverse Pleistocene life. Pretty incredible right?!
Meet Michele Pecina, Executive Director of the Madera Fossil Discovery Center.
After our breakfast, Michele took us on a private tour of the facility where we learned the history of this unique space and the incredible discoveries that have taken place here. We even saw a few fossils up close and personal, and so can you!
In 1993, a landscaper who was excavating an area of the local landfill in Madera noticed that the soil was strangely discolored. After a bit more digging, an eight-foot mammoth tusk was discovered! The Museum of Paleontology at the University of California Berkeley was contacted and assessed the site as a rich middle-Pleistocene fossil location!
As more and more fossils were uncovered, even more, astounding discoveries were made like the discovery of new species!
The array of fossils here is diverse. It includes sabertooth tigers, Columbian mammoths, and ground sloths to name a few – all contributing to one of the richest, most significant Pleistocene fossil finds in North America.
The Fairmead Landfill site held enough fossils to keep paleontologists busy for over twenty years!
Planning a trip to the Central San Joaquin Valley? Here are a few of our favorite places to visit!
The San Joaquin Valley region is composed of 13 counties: San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera, Fresno, Kings, Tulare, Kern, Calaveras, Tuolumne, Mono, Mariposa and Inyo.
The valley is predominantly rural, but it also has densely populated cities.
If you are planning to visit the San Joaquin Valley there are lots of amazing things to do and see! Here are a few of our favorite spots you can add to your list of must-see locations.
24 HOURS A DAY: The Palm and the Pine, Highway 99.
Sandwiched in between the southbound and northbound lanes of Highway 99 in Madera County is where, if you look closely, you will notice a Palm tree and a Pine Tree planted together.
This planting represents the symbolic divide between Northern and Southern California.
Whenever we are planning a California road trip, we make sure to plan stops at as many permanent farmstands on our route as possible! There is nothing better than visiting a unique farmstand, eating locally-grown produce, and sampling delicacies from the Golden State all while searching for the perfect souvenir.
Quady Winery in Madera, California creates wines that are delicious expressions of the fruit-filled San Joaquin Valley.
Quady Winery offers a unique winemaking style that is rich, full-bodied, and perfectly balanced.
Trust us, you won’t find another winery quite like this one!
OPEN: MON – SAT 11 AM – 4 PM || Strathmore- 22314 Ave 196, Strathmore, CA 93267
Want to get a true taste of the Central Valley? Plan a visit to the Orange Works Café!
This farmstand is right off Hwy 65 in the small town of Strathmore smack dab in the middle of the world’s largest fruit basket!
Excellent sandwiches made with fresh, local ingredients are always on the menu in addition to their signature Orange Ice Cream made with fresh pressed orange juice directly from the oranges that grow on their farm.
Located on Hwy 99 (EXIT 106A)
36005 Hwy 99 Traver, CA 93673-0222
If you happen to be in the Central Valley or just traveling through plan a stop at Bravo Farms. Every location of this permanent farmstand provides gifts, sweets, and road trip treasures.
Pairing locally grown fruits together with Bravo Farms Cheese is what this farmstand is best known for. Crowd favorites include local jams, ripe stone fruit, and the buckets of cheese curds!
Schedule ample time to explore when you visit; enjoy a meal at the cafe, and pick up a sweet treat. You won’t be disappointed!