Last week, as I was unpacking my biweekly bushel of fresh produce from Farmhouse Delivery, I was in for a fantastic surprise. I hadn’t checked the list of anticipated goods that week, so every time I reached in and pulled out a bunch of colorful fruits or veggies, it was like unwrapping a present (the kind you really really wanted, that is, not the kind you have to pretend to be in love with long enough to return or re-gift).
I was excited about avocados. Delighted by a big, periwinkle eggplant. Psyched to see another basket of Texas peaches. But I darn near lost my mind when out came a happy bunch of big, plump figs. “Are these…figs?!” I asked no one in particular, as they were much bigger than I’d seen before, and I didn’t want to get prematurely ecstatic.
Sure enough, they were. “Baby, we got FIGS!!” I exclaimed as my sweetheart walked through the front door, right before sinking my teeth into one and letting its soft, sweet flesh romance my tastebuds. He laughed out loud at my enthusiasm but didn’t front about not sharing it. Hey, more for me.
Figs are a unique fruit and are more often and easily found dried than fresh (which makes scoring a fresh fig even more rewarding). Their flavor is delicate, tangy, and wonderfully sweet—I’d peg them somewhere between a plum and guava.
The thing I really love about fresh figs, though, is their symphony of textures. Much like a plum, the skin is a bit chewy and fibrous (but not sour), while the flesh is soft, almost custardy, and just a little grainy. Inside, they’re full of tiny little seeds that offer a pleasant crunch like kiwi.
There are lots of different varieties of figs out there, all with slightly different colors, sizes, and flavors. The dried figs readily available in most groceries are usually Black Mission figs. I’m not exactly sure which variety came my way, but if I had to guess I’d say they’re Brown Turkey figs, which have brown skin and a deep pink middle.
Health-wise, figs are a great source of potassium, fiber, antioxidants, and calcium. The leaves of the fig tree (officially named the Ficus tree) also offer medicinal qualities known to lower the amount of insulin needed by diabetics and to treat bronchitis and skin ulcers.
As for the best way to eat fresh figs, I like biting into them straight, just like an apple. They’re also great when paired with creamy, smoky, sweet-and-salty notes, like stuffed with goat cheese and toasted almonds or wrapped in prosciutto. They’d also be great cut up in wedges and served with a honeyed yogurt dip.
Check back later this week in the Recipes channel to find out how I used the few figs I was able to save from my own clutches. I’ll give you a hint: it involves chiles, cheese, and warm tortillas and won’t last more than a few seconds once it hits your plate.