When figs come into season, I get excited because I know fall is just around the corner. I love the change of season. For those fitness buffs out there, you may know figs as the “fitness fruit” because they are a powerhouse of nutrition. They contain a high concentration of minerals, nutrients, and fiber like no other fruit in nature. Most people are familiar with dried figs used in processed foods or baked goods. Fresh figs however are truly a sweet delicious delight for the organic foodie.
Figs have been around since ancient times. Before the arrival refined sugars, figs were used as a natural sweetener. Their utilization dates back to 2500 B.C. with their first recorded use in the Sumerian stone tablets. In the Bible, Adam and Eve sewed fig leaves together to cover their bodies in the Garden of Eden. Cleopatra’s favorite fruit was reported to be the fig. The poisonous asp she used to end her life was brought to her in a basket of figs. Buddha meditated under the Bo tree, a variety of fig tree.
Today, figs are very popular amongst Mediterranean countries like, Turkey, Greece, Algeria, Italy and Spain. Most of America’s supply of figs comes from California, as it is the largest fig producer in the United States. There are 100’s of varieties of figs that range in color from white, green to purple and black. The black mission fig is a favorite along with the green Kadota with its creamy-amber colored flesh.
Contrary to popular belief, the true fruit of the fig is the hundreds of tiny droplets inside the fig that are usually mistaken for its seeds. The whole fig is actually the encasing that holds the hundreds of tiny fruits on the inside.
A fig’s shelf life is not long at all. This delicate fruit is highly perishable and can be difficult to transport. Therefore I always like to purchase my organic figs at the local farmers’ markets. When purchasing figs, pick them ripe as they do not ripen well once harvested. Fresh figs do not store well either, so eat them within a couple of days of purchase. You can refrigerate them to lengthen their shelf life by a day or two.
Fresh figs are excellent simply eaten raw accompanied by prosciutto, salami, melon with a variety of cheeses. Ripe, sweet figs are a delicious complement to a piece of goat cheese on a cracker. Try our simple antipasti recipe for Organic Figs, Melon, Prosciutto, and Salami or our Organic Fig Almond Frangipani Tart.