Part of the wonder of the fig comes from its unique taste and texture. Figs are lusciously sweet and feature a complex texture that combines the chewiness of their flesh, the smoothness of their skin, and the crunchiness of their seeds. In addition, since fresh figs are so delicate and perishable, some of their mystique comes from their relative rarity. Because of this, the majority of figs are dried, either by exposure to sunlight or through an artificial process, creating a sweet and nutritious dried fruit that can be enjoyed throughout the year.
Figs grow on the Ficus tree (Ficus carica), which is a member of the Mulberry family. They are unique in that they have an opening, called the “ostiole” or “eye,” which is not connected to the tree, but which helps the fruit’s development, aiding it in communication with the environment.
Figs are a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese and pantothenic acid.
How to Pick
Ripe figs should be kept in the refrigerator where they will stay fresh for about two days. Since they have a delicate nature and can easily bruise, you should store them either arranged on a paper towel-lined plate or shallow container. They should be covered or wrapped in order to ensure that they do not dry out, get crushed or pick up odors from neighboring foods. If you have purchased slightly under-ripe figs, you should keep them on a plate, at room temperature, away from direct sunlight. Dried figs will stay fresh for several months and can either be kept in a cool, dark place or stored in the refrigerator. They should be well wrapped so that they are not over exposed to air that may cause them to become hard or dry.
How to Enjoy
- When preparing oatmeal or any other whole grain breakfast porridge, add some dried or fresh figs.
- Poach figs in juice or red wine and serve with yogurt or frozen desserts.
- Add quartered figs to a salad of fennel, arugula and shaved Parmesan cheese.
- Fresh figs stuffed with goat cheese and chopped almonds can be served as hors d’oeuvres or desserts.
…. drizzle a little local honey on any of those options and you’ve got yourself a Farmers Market sweet and healthy delicacy!