Figs… Glorious Figs

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For a short month or so, every July, we are awash in figs! Black Mission, Kadota, Brown Turkey… all ridiculously good. Before I moved to Southern California, my closest contact with figs was Fig Newtons. I never even tasted a fresh one til I moved to Los Angeles and now… well, I’m addicted. To satisfy my cravings, I did plant two fig trees…. both of whom bear miserably. This year I got three figs. I think I underwater them. But my neighbor has a tree laden with them and the Farmers Markets all have figs too! The first week I eat them raw everyday, right from the bowl. Biting into the luscious goodness is an exercise in sensuality. The second week I start cooking. One of my favorites is to toss them on the grill after an al fresco supper. They don’t take long, about four minutes or so and they start caramelizing. Or if you really want to get decadent, make a little slit in the side with a sharp knife and stuff them with a little stilton cheese. You can grill them in the oven if you don’t have the barbie fired up.
There’s a variety of stilton that has apricots and other fruits which is yummy too. Manchego also works pretty good. I’ve also tried a variation with the stilton and then wrapped them in a prosciutto. Simply sublime.

10 Replies to “Figs… Glorious Figs”

  1. I am very jealous. We have a fig tree in our backyard that every year produces hundreds upon hundreds… that never ripen. Ever. It’s like the ultimate organic tease.

  2. Argh…other than in a newton I hate figs. Actually that’s harsh, I hate the trees. The roots are invasive. The limbs are perfect for rats to get up there and feed. I don’t know how many Mickey, Minnie and friends I blasted out of the tree during feeding frenzies before I got rid of the tree.

  3. I too have an inedible fig tree in my backyard. I have a massively delicious fig tree at my office that makes up for my backyard disappointment, though.

  4. Here’s the thing about the figs that don’t ripen… there’s a tiny wasp, Blastophaga grossorum that three trees varieties need to be pollinated by in order to bear fruit. They are the “Smyrna” the “Caprifigs”and the “San Pedro”. You probably have one of these. Maybe you could get the wasps and release them in the spring when there are flowers….

  5. Will, some fig varieties don’t ever ripen. But often unripe figs are due to stress. If you want your figs to ripen, try covering the soil with mulch and manure out to the drip line.

  6. Growing up we lived in a house in North Hollywood for a couple years that had a couple fig trees, and my main memory of them is that they attracted Green June Beetles. I’d find dozens of them embedded in the figs, chomping away without a care.

  7. I’m pretty sure that the fig I have in my backyard is ornamental. It grew back from being cut completely down by my landlord, so I wasn’t able to really tell if it would produce fruit until it grew in.

    I am in San Pedro, though, so maybe it just needs some wasp on blossom action? The wasp thing explains why we’ve had years at Angels Gate where our fig tree was a disappointment, and years where I’ve got more than I know what to do with.

  8. Strange. Our fig tree (15 years old) only ripens late August. We get about 3 gallons and we have trouble keeping up with the eating/canning/and giving away of all of em.
    We usually make a kumquat/fig chutney and normal jams that just rock the house. Or grill. You got a good point there.

  9. Here’s how I like to eat figs:

    Take some prosciutto and cut it into squares with kitchen shears. Lay the squares on a cookie sheet and bake at low heat until all of the moisture in meat evaporate and you have, in essence, prosciutto crackers. Top each cracker with a dried fig and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

    My own recipe, as far as I know (though it is possible that I read about it in the past and forgot about it). Call it Figs a la Samba.

  10. Yum! Figs a la Samba, gotta try that. I love the idea of making prosciutto into crackers. Brilliant!

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