One of the many wonderful fruits grown in California are figs! Even though they are considered a fruit, figs are actually flowers that have inverted into themselves. Who knew? Figs are in season from mid-May through December for some varieties, and they actually have 2 growing seasons: one quick season in early summer and the second, which is the main crop, is later in the summer and can run through fall. In one article, I read that figs were originally cultivated in India in the 14th century and the other article said they were first cultivated in Egypt. At any rate, they eventually made it to the US in the 1700s by way of the Franciscan missionaries who planted them at the Mission in San Diego and then in Santa Clara, Ventura and Sonoma, which is where the "Mission" Fig got its name. Now, California is one of the main producers of this fruit as well as Turkey, Greece, Portugal and Spain.
There are several different types of figs that range in color and flavor and include:
- Black Mission ~ most common fig with purple/black skin and dark pink flesh that are really sweet and were introduced to the US by the Franciscan Missionaries back in the 1700s
- Kadota ~ yellowish/green skin with purplish flesh that are less sweet than other varieties
- Calimyrna ~ yellow/light green skin with pinkish flesh that have a nutty flavor and are originally from Turkey
- Brown Turkey ~ rusted red to purple skin with green shoulders and pinkish flesh that look similar to mission figs, but aren't as sweet; they are originally from Provence, France
- Adriatic ~ bright green skin and red flesh that are really sweet
- Tiger Stripe or Candy Stripe ~ light yellow skin with green stripes and bright red flesh that has an almost strawberry like flavor (this fig only has 1 growing season)
Figs are not only delicious, they are also nutritious and have the information we want to provide to our cells, including (among other nutrients):
- Potassium ~ important for blood pressure control
- Antioxidants ~ important for managing oxidative stress and inflammation
- Fiber ~ important for gut health and for providing that feeling of fullness (satiety) that is important for blood sugar control
Figs keep best at room temperature, but will last longer if chilled, although chilling can reduce the flavor a bit. Around my house, they don't last long, so I leave them on the counter. Here are a few ideas for how to enjoy fresh figs*:
- By themselves ~ look out for bugs, as I once bit into one that I picked right off my sister's tree and found an earwig in the center; luckily I didn't pop the whole thing in my mouth...
- Enjoy with goat cheese or yogurt
- Chop up and add to a salad
- Add to smoothies
- Make a fruit spread
- Include with an antipasti plate that also has nuts, olives, cheeses, etc.
- Wrap in prosciutto ~
- With raw figs, or
- Depending on the size, half or even quarter figs, wrap in prosciutto, secure with a toothpick, and then toast on the BBQ, over low heat, until it gets crispy, so only for 30 - 60 seconds ~ yum
- For more recipes and ideas, check out the Spruce website by clicking here
*Please note: figs are high in oxalates, which can be problematic for those with calcium-oxalate containing kidney stones.
Specialty Produce Website. Retrieved from: http://www.specialtyproduce.com/produce/Brown_Turkey_Figs_6572.php
Bon Appetit Website. Retrieved from: http://www.bonappetit.com/test-kitchen/cooking-tips/article/calimyrna-figs
World's Healthiest Foods Website. Retrieved from: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=24
California Figs Website. Retrieved from: http://californiafigs.com/index.php?pageid=8