Recipe: Bake a batch of California prune bars
Call them dried plums or prunes; either way, they’re delicious – especially when made with fresh French or Italian plums.
These elongated “sugar plums” flourish in the greater Sacramento area. In the last weeks of summer and early fall, they’re readily available in farmers markets – or, if you're lucky, in your own backyard.
|French and Italian plums grow well in the Sacramento region.|
Due to their high sugar content, these sweet ovals make good preserves, wine and brandy as well as fantastic prunes or dried plums. Freestone, these varieties let their pits pop out with little fuss.
Dried at home, these plums are soft and pliable. In a dehydrator, French or Italian plum halves takes about 24 hours to dry to perfection. Store the dried plums in the freezer; they’ll keep for at least a year.
What to do with those dried plums? Any recipe that calls for prunes, of course.
For September snacking, try this recipe for California prune bars, a variation of old-fashioned date bars. This recipe is adapted from a 1970 classic, “The California Cookbook” by former Los Angeles Times food editor Jeanne Voltz.
California prune bars
Makes 18 bars
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For week of Dec. 3:
Make the most of gaps between raindrops. This is a busy month!
* Windy conditions brought down a lot of leaves. Make sure to rake them away from storm drains.
* Use those leaves as mulch around frost-tender shrubs and new transplants.
* Rake and remove dead leaves and stems from dormant perennials.
* Just because it rained doesn't mean every plant got watered. Give a drink to plants that the rain didn't reach, such as under eves or under evergreen trees. Also, well-watered plants hold up better to frost than thirsty plants.
* Prune non-flowering trees and shrubs while they're dormant.
* Clean and sharpen garden tools before storing for the winter.
* Brighten the holidays with winter bloomers such as poinsettias, amaryllis, calendulas, Iceland poppies, pansies and primroses.
* Keep poinsettias in a sunny, warm location. Water thoroughly. After the holidays, feed your plants monthly so they'll bloom again next December.
* Plant one last round of spring bulbs including daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths, anemones and scillas. Get those tulips out of the refrigerator and into the ground.
* This is also a good time to seed wildflowers such as California poppies.
* Plant such spring bloomers as sweet pea, sweet alyssum and bachelor buttons.
* Late fall is the best time to plant most trees and shrubs. This gives them plenty of time for root development before spring growth. They also benefit from fall and winter rains.
* Lettuce, cabbage and broccoli also can be planted now.
* Plant garlic and onions.
* Bare-root season begins. Plant bare-root berries, kiwifruit, grapes, artichokes, horseradish and rhubarb. Beware of soggy soil. It can rot bare-root plants.
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