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Many Americans have never eaten a fresh fig. I blame fig newtons and dried figs - those are NOTHING like a fresh fig. A fresh fig tastes like a mix of a peach and a strawberry!
In the U.S., Figs typically peak from July through first frost in the South, and from August and later in the North. Usually the trees produce a crop within a month, and then nothing for several months, so check your local farm to find out when they'll be in season. In the north, most trees only produce one crop per season. In order to produce good local Figs, producers depend on ideal spring and early summer weather conditions, and no late frosts.
There are hundreds of fig varieties but the following are most commonly found in U.S. farms and markets.
Brown Turkey Figs: has brownish / copper-colored skin, often with hints of purple, and mostly pink/red flesh with some white flesh. This variety is used exclusively for the fresh fig market and is common at PYO farms..
Celeste figs are about the size of an egg, a purplish-brown when ripe, and a dark, sweet, moist, purple flesh inside.
The Calimyrna Fig: Is known for its nut-like flavor and golden skin. This type is commonly eaten as is.
The Mission Fig: Was named for the mission fathers who planted the fruit along the California coast. This fig is a deep purple which darkens to a rich black when dried. Often called "black mission figs".
The Kadota Fig: Is the American version of the original Italian Dattato fig, that is thick-skinned with a creamy amber color when ripe. Practically seedless, this fig is often canned and dried. A similar variety is the "Peter's Honey" fig. Birds often leave these alone, because, since they are green when ripe, the birds don't know they're ripe!
Color - Figs come in all colors from yellow, brown, red to purple, black and others! So you need to know what color the ripe fig is. The most commonly grown figs, Brown Turkey and Celeste are a golden yellow as shown at left when ripe.
Texture - Ripe Figs Become soft like a peach when ripe, but they should not be mushy or fall apart!
|Figs grown on low, open trees, with no thorns and soft leaves, so they're very easy to pick! The ripe figs will separate easily from the tree when you lift them upwards from their normal drooping position. The ripe figs definitely droop a bit and feel softer. Unripe figs are harder, more firmly attached and do not droop. Note the orange, drooping Celeste figs at left.|
|Figs must be picked ripe from the trees, since they do not ripen once picked. See the photo of unripe figs at left. They are small, hard, and not their proper color. Of course, there are some figs, like LSU Gold, Peter's Honey, or Italian figs that are greenish-yellow when ripe, too.|
I have heard and verified that some people are allergic to the fig latex, a milky white liquid produced by the fig tree and develop contact rashes. Just like with other latex allergies, if this applies to you be sure to wear and long sleeves when you pick and wear the appropriate type of gloves when picking or handling figs!
Figs won't last long at room temperature, but a mildly cool refrigerator will keep them several days.
Freeze within 12 hours of picking time, if possible. Prepare and freeze Figs only about 3 pints at one time. Then repeat the process until all Figs are frozen.
When you are ready to eat them, thaw the frozen figs in the refrigerator in the container.
For Fresh Use
For Jams and Preserves
|Adriatic ( also called Fragola, Strawberry Fig, Verdone, White Adriatic)||Greenish skin , flesh is strawberry colored||Small to medium||Good||Good|
|Alma||Greenish brown||Small||Very good||Good|
|Black Mission||Black purple skin with
Flesh watermelon to pink,
|Medium||Good||Good. Easily dried at home.|
|Brown Turkey||Bronze ( yellow/brown)||Medium to large||Good||Excellent|
|Celeste||Lt. brown to violet||Medium||Very good||Excellent|
|Green Ischia||Bright green||Medium||Good||Good (seeds
|Hunt||Dull bronze with specks||Small to medium||Good||Excellent|
|Italian Honey fig, Peter's Honey||skin yellowish green, flesh white to amber||Medium to large||Very good,
very sweet, lemon flavor
|Kadota||Bright greenish-yellow||Medium to large||Fair||Excellent|
Other variants are:
Figs Serving Size 1/2 cup raw (74g)
|Amounts Per Serving||% Daily Value|
|Calories from Fat 0|
|Total Fat 0g||0%|
|Saturated Fat 0g||0%|
|Total Carbohydrate 24g||8%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||7%|
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Below is the USDA's Food Value Per 100 g of Edible Figs
|Fiber||1.2-2.2 g||5.6 g|
|Ash||0.48 0.85 g||2.3 g|
|Calcium||35-78.2 mg||126 mg|
|Phosphorus||22-32.9 mg||77 mg|
|Iron||0.6-4.09 mg||3.0 mg|
|Sodium||2.0 mg||34 mg|
|Potassium||194 mg||640 mg|
|as Vitamin A||20-270 I.U.||80 I.U.|
|Thiamine||0.034-0.06 mg||0.10 mg|
|Riboflavin||0.053-0.079 mg||0.10 mg|
|Niacin||0.32-0.412 mg||0.7 mg|
|Ascorbic Acid||12.2-17.6 mg||0 mg|
|Citric Acid||0.10-0.44 mg|
Note: There are small amounts of malic, boric and oxalic acids.
While there is some variation among varieties of figs, most like hot climates but can tolerate temperatures down to 10 F to 20 F with mulch or in favorable sites. If it gets and stays colder than that, any above ground growth will be killed off and the tree can regrow from the roots in the Spring. Of course, if it stays that cold for long, the roots can die, too. Brown Turkey, Brunswick and Blue Celeste are more cold tolerant than most of the others.
Figs like a dry climate with light early spring rains. Too much water during fruit development and ripening can be detrimental to the crop, causing the fruits to split. But very hot, dry spells will cause fruit-drop even if the trees are irrigated.
Figs require full sun most of the day to ripen. Trees can become enormous, and will shade out anything growing beneath. Roots spread, traveling far beyond the tree canopy. Figs are not a fruit tree for tight quarters. The fine roots that invade garden beds, however, may be cut without loss to the tree. In areas with short (less than 120 days between frosts), cool summers, you cvan prune the trees to grow against a southern-facing wall (called an espalier). If you are growing them in a container; replace most of the soil in the tub every three years and keep the sides of the tub shaded to prevent overheating in sunlight.
The fig can be grown on a wide range of soils; light sand, rich loam, heavy clay or limestone, providing there is sufficient depth and food drainage. Sandy soil that is medium-dry and contains a good deal of lime is preferred when the crop is intended for drying. Highly acid soils are unsuitable. The pH should be between 6.0 and 6.5. The tree is fairly tolerant of moderate salinity.
Gophers like to eat fig tree roots. Deer are not particularly attracted to fig trees or fruit, but birds can cause a lot of damage, pecking at the ripe fruits. Varieties that are green or yellow when ripe tend top attract fewer birds.
Nematodes, particularly in sandy soils, attack roots, forming galls and stunting the trees. Mitadulid and Carpophilus dried fruit beetles can enter ripening fruit through the eye and cause damage by introducing fungi and rots. They frequently breed in fallen citrus fruits. Keep a clean orchard by destroy fallen fruits and do not grow near citrus trees.
Mosaic virus, formerly considered benign, probably causes crop reduction. Symptoms resemble potassium deficiency--leaves are marbled with yellow spots, and the veins are light colored. Symptoms are often not apparent until the tree is older or when it becomes heat or water-stressed. .
Fig trees are easily propagated through cuttings. In September or October, make a cutting and put it in a bucket with potting soil, or simply stick it in the ground and cover with mulch. One out of 10 will take, but once you've got a fig tree going, it's hard to kill. Protect it the first winter from frost with a deep mulch, and then it's on its own. After three years, it should start producing.
A reader suggests that the following method has a much higher rate of success. I've tried it and it does work well:
Take a low-growing branch, about quarter to half inch (5 - 15 mm) diameter, and bury part in the soil. Put a stone or brick on top of the submerged section to stop it getting pulled out by wind or passing animals. After a year it will have rooted. Cut the parent branch and pot up or plant out the new plant.
A: I just prepare them as if I were going to use them (in jam making or whatever) by washing, then cutting the stems off and peeling them (I like them peeled), then I pack them in a ziploc bag and pop them in the freezer. A few weeks in the freezer like that till I accumulate enough to make jam, won't hurt them! I've keep them in the freezer as long as several months until I made jam!
A. Yes, others have reported allergic reactions to handling and eating figs. See this scientific report on the subject. Skin reactions are more common after handling hot peppers and mangos (see this page for more information) but it is not unheard of with figs.
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