Types Of Figs, History Of Figs: Have Some Figs For National Fig Week - The Nibble Webzine Of Food Adventures Types Of Figs, History Of Figs: Have Some Figs For National Fig Week
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Types Of Figs, History Of Figs: 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 © Melissa’s).

Brown Turkey Figs
[2] Brown Turkey figs, a popular variety (photo © Good Eggs).

Fig Fondue
[3] Fig fondue (photo © California Figs).

[4] Ham and fig sandwich with arugula (photo ©
The Model Bakery | St. Helena, California).

  Figs are such a delicious fruit; but how often do you eat them? For inspiration, we have a delicious fig dessert recipe below, as well as the different types of figs and the history of figs. The first week in November is a good excuse to have your fill: It’s National Fig Week.

  • Figs for breakfast: Serve with oatmeal and other cereals, with cottage cheese and yogurt. Add them to muffins and scones, 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), 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 a pan sauces. Add whole dates to stews. Dip them in cheese fondue.
  • 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. Dip them in chocolate fondue.

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

    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 Figs: 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: The most common type of green fig, Kadotas have a mild sweet flavor, and are famous for being the filling in Fig Newton cookies.
  • 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 have grown in Africa, the Mediterranean, West Asia, and South Asia beginning around 100 million years ago, during the time of the dinosaurs.

    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.

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

    In hot climates, fig trees produce two crops every year. The leaves of the fig tree are also edible.



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

    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.


    [5] Roast figs with pecans and honey (photo © Karcich | Dreamstime).

    [6] Fig tree (photo © Serjan Midili | Unsplash).






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