Figs are hot and dry weather fruit—famously enjoyed for millennia in the Middle East, where it’s hot year-round.
In the U.S., figs grow in zones 8-10 (most of our figs are grown in California. They have two seasons: a shorter season in early summer and a second, main crop that starts in late summer and runs through fall.
Fig trees cannot withstand temperatures much below 20°F, and so are not grown in most of the Midwest and in the Northeast.
Dalmatia Fig Spread. Photo courtesy
TheKitchn.com. Here’s their review.
So depending on your residence, you won’t find fresh figs; but you can console yourself with a jar of fig jam or chutney.
Beyond spreading it on toast, here’s what you can do with it, courtesy of FrenchFarm.com,
Use it as a glaze for meats, especially duck and pork.
Mix it in with pan juices to make a sauce.
Add it to a red wine vinaigrette to make a spectacular salad dressing.
Pair it with cheese—our favorites being blue cheese , goat cheese, bleu or camembert on crostini.
Use it as the center of humbprint cookies.
Spoon it over cheesecake.
Add it to cheese and charcuterie plates.
Garnish a flatbread pizza made with prosciutto, Gorgonzola cheese and arugula.
Use it as a topping for ice cream.
You can find Dalmatia Fig Spread (photo above)at many supermarkets, and other fig jams and chutneys at most specialty stores. But The French Farm has the biggest selection of fig condiments we’ve seen, any of which would make a lovely small gift or stocking stuffer for a foodie. The choices include:
Black Fig Jam (from L’Epicurien), to spread on toast, pastries, waffles, or to enjoy with cheese.
Confit of Figs & Black Olives (L’Epicurien), a spread of sweet white figs and savory black olives that can dress up just about anything. Pair with cheese or use as a sandwich spread.
Fig & Balsamic Vinegar Confit (L’Epicurien), delicious on a sandwich or on a cracker with goat cheese, or as a condiment with foie gras.
Fig & Grape Jam (from L’Epicurien), a delightful balance of juicy grape and earthy fig, spread some on toast or breakfast pastries.
Fig & Walnut Confit (from L’Epicurien) is perfect with goat cheese or on a slice of toasted baguette.
White Fig Jam (from L’Epicurien), more delicate than the black fig jam, is delicious on top of a slice of toasted baguette, with a slice of Cheddar on a crostini, or on a breakfast pastry.
But fig condiments don’t stop at jam. Check out the other options:
Mustard with fig. Photo courtesy The French Farm.
Fig Mustard (from L’Epicurien), can be paired with cured meats, ham, roasted or smoked turkey, cheddar cheese, roast pork or a grilled cheese sandwich.
Grape Must Vinegar with Fig (from Il Boschetto) is freshly pressed grape juice that contains the skins, seeds and stems. The mixture is simmered with the addition of vinegar made from Tuscan red wine, into a rich balsamic-like syrup that is stunning over fish, fresh salads, and desserts.
Red Wine Vinegar With Fig (from Edmond Fallot), great for salad dressing, marinades, or sauces. Try it on a goat cheese-stuffed chicken breast with braised greens.
Spiced Fig Chutney (from L’Epicurien), both sweet and savory and perfect for a cheese board, charcuterie plate or a chicken or turkey sandwich.
A BRIEF HISTORY OF FIGS
The edible fig was one of the first plants to be cultivated by humans. Fossils dating to about 9400–9200 B.C.E. in the Jordan Valley predate the domestication of barley, legumes, rye and wheat, and may thus be the first known instance of agriculture. Some botany historians propose that the figs may have been cultivated one thousand years before the next crops (wheat and rye) were domesticated.
Much later in time, figs were a common food source for the Romans. Cato the Elder, in his De Agri Cultura, lists several strains of figs: the Mariscan, African, Herculanean, Saguntine and the black Tellanian. In addition to human consumption, figs were used, among other things, to fatten geese for the production of a precursor of foie gras.
In ancient times, figs were cultivated from Afghanistan to Portugal to India. From the 15th century onwards, they spread to Europe and later, to the New World. [Source]