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A Guide To Buying And Cooking Figs

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Sweet and smooth, figs are a superb – though uncommonly used – cooking ingredient. They are an important source of potassium, fiber and magnese, and can be used in both savory and sweet dishes.

Because figs are highly perishable, most chefs are probably most familiar with dried figs, but late summer through autumn is the ideal time to experiment with fresh figs in your cooking.

 

Fresh vs. Dried

Dried and fresh figs taste considerably different from each other. Dried figs are chewy and have a wine-like flavor, while fresh figs are juicy and “brighter” in taste.

For this reason, don’t randomly substitute one for the other in recipes.

Fresh vs. Dried

 

How to Buy and Store Figs

Fresh figs are generally available July through September. When ripe, figs should give a little when squeezed gently. They should also have a sweet aroma. Because figs go quickly from ripe to rotten, store them in the refrigerator for no more than 3 days.

Placing them in an air tight container whose bottom is lined with paper towels can keep them fresher longer. If you’ve purchased figs that aren’t quite ripe, store them at room temperature until ripe.

How to Buy and Store Figs

 

Fig Varieties

There are hundreds of types of figs, but only a few are commonly found in grocery stores.

Brown turkey figs have brownish purple skin with pinkish meat. They are best eaten fresh.

The Calimyrna fig has gold skin and its meat has a mildly nutty taste.  This type of fig is mostly eaten fresh.

Kadota figs have amber-colored skin that should be removed before eating. Kadota is a common choice for drying or canning.

Fresh Mission figs have dark purple skin and pale purple meat. These are an excellent choice for cooking.

Fig Varieties

 

Cooking Tips

  • Figs are an excellent meat tenderizer.
  • Use dried figs interchangeably with prunes, dates, or dried apricots.
  • Soak dry figs in warm water to make them more moist.
  • For best results, always let figs come to room temperature before eating or cooking with them.
  • To help prevent dried figs from sticking to a chopping knife, dip the knife in warm water from time to time. If running through a food processor, help prevent the fruit from sticking by adding a little bit of the sugar that’s called for in the recipe.
  • Figs are excellent skewered and grilled.
  • Good fig go-withs include pork, lamb, turkey, cheese and prosciutto. Figs also make excellent pies, tarts, or accompaniments to yogurt or ice cream.

Cooking Tips

 

Check out the video version of this article on YouTube

 

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