Get The Most Out of Your Figs from Backyard Eats
When It’s Ready
- Observe the color and texture: Ripe figs will have a deep, rich color and a slightly soft texture.
- Check for a drooping posture: Figs that are ready for harvest will bend downward rather than pointing upwards.
- Assess the fruit’s firmness: Gently squeeze the fig, and it should yield slightly but not be too mushy.
When It’s Too Late
- Overripe figs become overly soft, mushy, and may start to ooze or ferment.
- Regularly check your fig tree to ensure you pick the figs at their peak ripeness.
- Wear gloves to protect your hands from the milky sap some fig trees produce.
- Hold the fig near its base and give it a gentle twist. Ripe figs should detach easily from the tree.
- Place the harvested figs gently in a container, taking care not to crush them.
- Avoid leaving figs in direct sunlight for extended periods as they can quickly become overripe.
- Freshly harvested figs have a short shelf life, so enjoy them promptly.
Growing figs in your garden can be a rewarding and delicious experience. Start by selecting a sunny location with well-drained soil. If you live in a colder climate, consider planting a cold-hardy variety or growing the fig tree in a container that can be brought indoors during winter. Plant the fig tree in early spring or late fall, digging a hole large enough to accommodate the roots. Water the tree thoroughly after planting and apply mulch around the base to conserve moisture. Water the fig tree regularly, especially during hot and dry periods, to keep the soil consistently moist. Prune the tree during the dormant season to remove any dead or diseased branches and to shape the tree. Fertilize the fig tree with a balanced fertilizer in early spring and again in early summer. As the fig tree matures, it will produce delicious fruits. Harvest the figs when they are fully ripe, slightly soft, and have a rich color. Enjoy the sweet and succulent figs straight from the tree or use them in a variety of culinary creations.
Fresh Storage: Place fresh figs in a single layer in a breathable container, like a shallow bowl, and store them in the refrigerator for up to five days.
Long-Term Storage: Figs can be dried by cutting them in half, laying them on a baking sheet, and drying them in the oven on low heat until they are fully dried. You can also use a specialized food dehydrator. Store dried figs in an airtight container in a cool, dark place for several months.
Cooking With Figs
- Fresh Fig Salad: Slice fresh figs and combine them with mixed greens, goat cheese, toasted nuts, and a balsamic vinaigrette. The sweet and luscious figs add a delightful contrast to the salad.
- Fig and Prosciutto Crostini: Spread goat cheese or cream cheese on toasted baguette slices, then top with thinly sliced fresh figs and a piece of prosciutto. This combination of sweet, salty, and creamy flavors creates a delicious appetizer.
- Fig Jam: Simmer figs with sugar, lemon juice, and a touch of water until they break down and form a thick jam. Enjoy the homemade jam on toast, cheese boards, or as a filling for pastries.
- Roasted Fig Dessert: Halve fresh figs and roast them in the oven with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon until they soften and caramelize. Serve the roasted figs with a dollop of yogurt or ice cream for a simple yet elegant dessert.
- Fig and Cheese Pairings: Serve fresh figs alongside a selection of cheeses like Brie, Gorgonzola, or Camembert. The combination of the sweet figs and creamy, tangy cheeses creates a delightful flavor contrast.
- Fig and Almond Tart: Arrange fresh fig slices on a pre-baked tart shell, then pour a sweet almond custard over them. Bake until the tart is golden and the filling is set for a decadent dessert.
- Fig Chutney: Cook diced figs with onions, vinegar, brown sugar, and a combination of warm spices like ginger, cinnamon, and cloves. This sweet and savory chutney pairs well with cheese, roasted meats, or as a condiment for sandwiches.