Ways To Serve Figs, Types Of Figs & Fig History - The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures Ways To Serve Figs, Types Of Figs & Fig History
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TIP OF THE DAY: Have Some Figs For National Fig Week

Roasted Figs
[1] Honey-roasted figs are a delicious dessert. You can serve them with goat cheese or mascarpone (photo courtesy Melissa’s).
Brown Turkey Figs
Brown Turkey figs, a popular variety (photo courtesy Good Eggs).
Fig Fondue
[3] Fig fondue (photo courtesy California Figs).
  Figs are such a delicious fruit; but how often do you eat them? For inspiration, we have a delicious dessert recipe below.

The first week in November is a good excuse: It’s National Fig Week.

> The history of figs is below.

> A recipe for roasted figs with pecans and honey is also below—a simple yet elegant dessert.

  • Figs for breakfast: Serve with oatmeal and other cereals, with cottage cheese and yogurt. Add them to muffins and scones, and make or buy fig jam.
  • Figs at lunch: Add figs to green salads, protein salads (greens with chicken, salmon, etc.), and grain salads.
  • Figs as snacks: Grab-and-go, slice into trail mix, add to oatmeal cookies, dip in chocolate, make snack skewers with cheese cubes and grapes or other fruits.
  • Fig cocktails: Check out these recipes.
  • Figs as appetizers: Stuff figs with goat cheese or mascarpone (dip the open ends in chopped pistachios), and wrap them in prosciutto or bacon. Serve them with a cheese plate.
  • Figs for dinner: Roast figs with meat: chicken, lamb, pork. When they cook in the pan juices, they add a sweet note to the pan sauces. Add whole dates to stews.
  • Figs for dessert: Make fig ice cream, cake or tarts (serve with crème fraîche). Add figs to a rice pudding and compote. Soak them in Grand Marnier or other liqueur and use as a dessert garnish, including with ice cream and sorbet.


    Buy whatever is plumpest and most visually appealing. Or, buy as many varieties as you can find, and have a comparison tasting.

    There are hundreds of varieties of figs in the world. In the U.S., commonly-found varieties include:

  • Black Mission Figs: smallish, with dense pink flesh heavily studded with seeds that give a pleasant crunch.
  • Brown Turkey Figs: Pear-shaped, with maple-brown skin. Those with tender skin that bruises easily will be soft and velvety, sweet and juicy.
  • Calimyrna: Often found dried, it is outstanding as a fresh fruit. The large fruits split with ripeness, and taste of honey, jam, and butterscotch. If you find them only semi-ripe supermarket figs, grill them, which brings out caramel notes.
  • Kadota Figs: These green figs have a mildly sweet flavor and are famous for being the filling in Fig Newton cookies since 1891.
  • King Figs: This cold-weather fig is largely grown in the Pacific Northwest. It is a teardrop-shaped, green-skinned fig and has dark purple. Shop at farmers’ markets or natural foods groceries for the best bet at finding truly ripe King figs.
  • Sierra Figs: A green-skinned fig, the Sierra is also a new variety, introduced by breeders in 2006. It resembles the Calimyrna: The fruits are large and round, ideal for slicing open and serving by the half.

    Wild figs, Ficus carica L., have grown in Africa, the Mediterranean, West Asia, and South Asia since about 100 million years ago, during the time of the dinosaurs.

    They are believed to have originated in south-central Asia (Asia Minor) and spread out from there.

    Many primates eat wild figs, and the first humans ate them as well. They discovered that figs could be dried and stored as winter staples.

    Around 11,000 years ago, people in West Asia had begun to cultivate fig trees. Farmed figs may be the first kind of food that anybody farmed, even before wheat and barley (the other contender for first-cultivated is dates).

    The fig tree is referenced repeatedly in both the Old and New Testaments; some scholars believe “the forbidden fruit” picked by Eve was a fig rather than an apple.

    Remains of fig trees have been found during excavations of Neolithic sites from 5000 B.C.E. Sumerian stone tablets dating back to 2500 B.C.E. record the culinary use of figs.

    Ancient Olympians were rewarded with figs, and Pliny the Elder extolled the fruit’s restorative powers. The prophet Mohammed [reportedly] identified the fig as the one fruit he would most wish to see in paradise [source].

    Spanish Franciscan missionaries brought the fig to southern California in 1520, leading to the variety known as the Mission fig.

    Fig trees require hot climates to bear fruit, and can produce two crops every year. The leaves of the fig tree are also edible.

    The trees can live up to 100 years and can grow to 50 feet tall, though most cultivated trees are between 10 to 30 feet.

    In the U.S., the Bard Valley in southern California and the state of Texas produce most of the commercial crops.



    This variation of classic roasted figs was created by Chef Ida Rodriguez of Melissa’s Special Produce.

    Serve it with a glass of muscat or other dessert wine.

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 16 small figs slightly over ripe
  • 5 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons muscat wine or other good quality dessert wine
  • 1/2 cup pecans
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Black pepper
  • 1/2 cup crème fraîche

    1. PREHEAT the oven to 400°F, setting a rack in the center. Coat a shallow baking dish with the butter and place figs in it, stem up. Sprinkle with 4 tablespoons of the sugar and add the wine.

    2. BAKE in a preheated oven for 20 minutes, basting occasionally.

    3. ADD the pecans and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar. Lower oven temperature to 300°F and bake 6 to 8 minutes longer.

      Figs on Tree
    [4] Figs on the tree (photo courtesy Indoor Citrus Trees).

    Kale Salad With Turkey & Dates
    [5] Kale salad with smoked turkey and figs. Here’s the recipe from Food So Good Mall.

    4. TRANSFER the figs and pecans carefully to a serving dish. Add the honey to the cooking juices, and cook over low heat to blend. Spoon the syrup over figs and sprinkle with lemon juice and pepper.

    5. SET aside to cool and then refrigerate. Serve cold with crème fraîche.



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