In Season: Figs

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The fig trees around our neighborhood are brimming with fruit this time of year. Some neighbors even start putting out signs, offering to share. 

They always remind me of a summer trip to Croatia, where we stayed in a house with a woman who would get up each morning to check the trees. But as it turns out, they have a lot to do with California, too: we produce 98% of the fresh figs in the country! 

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Last week, I got a nice surprise when the California fig board sent some of this year’s crop my way to try. They’re especially sweet this year, plump from the rain we finally got. 

Sweet enough to eat out of hand, or one of my favorite ways: over a creamy whole milk yogurt with pistachios and honey. 

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Here are some tips for choosing and keeping figs, if you’d like to try this: 

Touch: Choose plump, fragrant figs that have a little give when touched. The fruit should be soft but not mushy. Handle fresh figs carefully—they are fragile and bruise easily.

Smell: Don’t be concerned about small slits or tears in the skin as long as the fig has a fresh aroma. Avoid figs with a fermentation odor; it indicates that the fruit is overripe.

Taste: You can eat them whole, skin and all. I like to slice off the stems and then quarter them. There are many varieties, so test each to see which you prefer. 

Keep: Store figs in the refrigerator for as long as five to seven days. Or to keep longer, just rinse and freeze, arranging in a single layer on a pan. Transfer frozen figs to a sealed plastic bag, where they can be kept in the freezer for up to six months.

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If you’d like, you can also sautée the figs, cut-side down, in a pan with a bit of honey to caramelize them and serve over yogurt of mascarpone for a simple summer dessert! 

How do you like to eat figs? 

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