Welcome back to the Farm Stand, your weekly guide to seasonal Southern produce.
This week the focus is on figs. Exotic, biblical, unctuous, nature’s candy — figs have been called a lot of things, but once you have a pound of them sitting in your kitchen you might just call them confusing.
Although they may be a much more routine part of eating in the Middle East, we grow them just as well here in the South. And being the colorful region that we are, it’s only fitting that varieties like The Green Ischia, Black Italian and, of course, LSU Purple grow here.
So let’s get fig familiar.
- Figs are like the Meryl Streep of fruits. From salads to jellies and even simply broiled alone, they can accept any role and win overwhelming praise. If you need guidance as to what fig will fit your recipe’s flavors or want to know the color of a certain variety’s inner flesh, reference our guide to Fig varieties.
- Finding figs fit for eating can be a sticky situation. You don’t want to buy figs with taut skin and stiff stems, but you don’t necessarily want ones that are weeping, splitting and generally a hot mess at the farmers market. Slightly wrinkled skin is a good sign, but try to buy ones with minimal splitting and leakage. Folks like those from Petals of the Past at Birmingham’s Pepper Place Market, who sold mine, will be happy to help you find a good group.
- Like a sky-high meringue or my mama on a mid-August afternoon, figs too will start to wilt if not appreciated fresh. Although you can put them in the fridge to extend their lifespan, their full flavor comes alive when stored at room temperature so plan to use them within 36 hours.
- Fig season typically lasts until mid-September in the Deep South, but check with your local extension agency or favorite farmer to know the timing in your area.
What to Make