There is just something fantastical about a perfectly ripe, just-picked fig. Figs have a sumptuously sweet (but not cloying) taste, a rich, pillowy texture and ever-so-slightly crunchy, edible seeds that give them a little bite in the center. Once picked, they’re a bit delicate, begging to be handled with care and presented with style. In a word, figs are sexy…and they know it.
There are a few varieties of fig trees that grow readily in our region with a decent amount of sunlight and well-drained soil. One of the most popular is the “Brown Turkey” fig, hardy in zones 7 through 10 without much special care, self-pollinating and likely to produce two crops of plentiful, 4-inch fruits twice a year once mature. Check your favorite local garden store for this and other brown and green varieties. Plant fig trees from late fall to early spring.
If you’ve already got a fig tree bursting with ripe green or purplish-brown fruits or know someone who does, lucky you. The end of summer and early fall is when fully ripened figs are most abundant here in Coastal Virginia. And, if you can pick them before the birds and squirrels have a field day, it is truly worth the wait over these recent hot summer months. Plus, figs are considered a superfood, packed with fiber, vitamins and minerals.
But what to do with all those figs after you’ve picked them—or pilfered them from a neighbor’s tree, with permission, of course? Fresh figs don’t last all that long, even when stored at room temperature in a cool dry spot or in the fridge. We asked local cooking instructor Jacqui Renager for a few ideas for “gettin’ figgy with it.”
Learn more about Fun in the Kitchen with Jacqui at CookingwithJacqui.com.
Place a round of brie in a serving dish and bake at 350 degrees for about 15-18 minutes. Slice up some fresh figs and place them on top of the heated brie. Drizzle with honey or balsamic glaze and serve with toasted bread slices. Serve with a nice crisp summer white wine or Prosecco. Your guests will go wild.
Figs are lovely on a summer salad. Just chop up some romaine, baby arugula, shaved Parmesan, candied walnuts, slivered carrots, ripe summer strawberries, grilled chicken, quartered fresh figs and drizzle it with a light balsamic vinegar. It’s the best.
With Meats and Cheeses…
Figs are delightful when roasted with chicken or other poultry, quail and duck. They also pair beautifully with salty cured meat and tangy cheese. Try a pizza or flatbread with olive oil as the base, top with prosciutto slices, quartered figs, goat cheese. Bake your pie and then top with some fresh baby arugula and drizzle with a balsamic glaze. Or look for a fig balsamic glaze at your favorite grocery store or gourmet shop.
Pair them with nuts and bananas—an especially perfect way to use overripe figs.
Make them yourself or buy some from Virginia Beach–based It Started with a Fig.
Blend figs with yogurt, ice, almond milk, chia seeds, honey and blueberries and voilà!
Figs make a delicious topper on those time-saving oats with granola and milk.
Zhuzh up that yogurt with slivered almonds, honey and figs for breakfast or a light lunch.