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Figs


Monica Bhide
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FIgs are back in season, and my little tree is outproducing what the catbirds can consume, so I'm preserving now and planning dishes for when Christmas is taken care of.  I thought I would share a few ideas for others who may be overwhelmed.

The fig and vanilla preserves in Christine Ferber's book are wonderful, and I made one batch with about three tablespoons of bourbon added in the second cooking.  I think it came out well.

Fig, balsamic, peppercorn preserves are macerating in the fridge today.  I used Ferber's ratio of 1 kilo of fruit to 800 grams of sugar because I know it makes for a good set if you want to have it shelf stable after canning.

I had a Croatian fig cake while shopping in Borough Market in London, and hope to have some figs to dry so I can make my own this year.

On the menu for next week is this fig and almond crostata.  We have also done quite a few figs cut in half, smeared with a little chèvre, put under the broiler, then drizzled with a little balsamico.

If you have a wonderful recipe, please share!

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Cajun fig cake from Enola Prudhomme: http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/6236/Enola-Prudhommes-Cajun-Fig-Cake.html

You're so lucky to have a fig tree that bears. I had no idea how lucky I was growing up with fresh figs that mom would preserve. Fig trees were quite tall and we had to use ladders to pick the fruit and we had to dodge the wasps that hung around.

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Cajun fig cake from Enola Prudhomme: http://www.nytimes.com/recipes/6236/Enola-Prudhommes-Cajun-Fig-Cake.html

You're so lucky to have a fig tree that bears. I had no idea how lucky I was growing up with fresh figs that mom would preserve. Fig trees were quite tall and we had to use ladders to pick the fruit and we had to dodge the wasps that hung around.

That sounds a lot like Maida Heatter's Savannah Fig Cake.  The old-fashioned preserves were whole figs in syrup, at least that's what my Grandmother and all her friends did with them.

I'm feeling exceptionally lucky about this tree. :)  It started as a little, twig cutting off my Grandparents' tree (they are gone now) that my parents had rooted, and the first year I planted it, even though there was a clear ring of mulched area around it, the UPS guy walked through our yard instead of on the sidewalk, stepped on it, and crushed it.  As karmic payment for not murdering the UPS guy, it came back the next spring, and after four more years of manure and wood ash, I'm finally seeing payola.

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What variety is your tree? The one my MIL planted, which ripens late, is one of the brownish/purplish varieties, but the flavor is quite vegetal. My deceased neighbor up the street's house has been razed, along with many of his fig trees, but some are still standing and I went over and picked five pounds of ripe figs last week on a day when no workmen were around. They are a green-ripe, Kadota, very tasty variety. I quick boiled and macerated the figs overnight with sugar, lemon juice, bay leaves, orange peel and a muslin sack of aniseseeds and black cardamom seeds, and a splash of rosé from an unfinished bottle. The next day I cooked it down in my confiture kettle and just before jarring, added a few drops of orange flower water. This is seriously delicious. I think it is the best jam I have ever made.

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^ Please be careful taking fruit from someone's yard, or maybe just don't admit to it in public.  :)  Where I grew up in Florida, it would land you in jail.

My tree is a Brown Turkey.  A lot of people don't like them, but I think they must pick the fruit before they are ready.  If you wait until the figs are chocolate brown on the ends and the skin just starts to split, they are wonderful.  My Mom has a Celeste in her backyard, and those are a bit smaller and have really nice flavor.  I wish I had more space!

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^ Please be careful taking fruit from someone's yard, or maybe just don't admit to it in public.  :)  Where I grew up in Florida, it would land you in jail.

The neighbor used to share his figs with everyone he knew. I talked about making jam from his figs at his funeral. (He had been in a nursing home for a year before he died. His sons sold the property to a developer soon after he died,) And I doubt that the contractor who is developing the property would know or care if some of the figs were picked. The lot is wide open, not fenced. It took me about ten minutes, and the dogs were with me.
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OK, this is not really fair because fellow DR members cannot pop down the street to procure, but one of the differences about shopping in DFW is the variety and abundance of fresh figs.  I took a pic this morning at Central Market, enclosed, to share with my fig-tree gifted neighbor back in Virginia.  I then saw this thread so had to post.  I am surprised by how popular fresh figs are here.

I want to figure out how to work with the fresh figs and duck breast or quail, two other prolific meats in this area.  Will report back on findings.

And lperry, if I discover any new vegetarian concoctions, will share the word!

post-5654-0-57728000-1378051017_thumb.jp

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lperry, are your fig trees in a protected place?  How about your mother's?  Does she live around here?

It's on the south side of the house, but not really protected.  We are in a warm section of Alexandria close to water, so this may be a bit of a microclimate.  Mom lives in a very protected area called Florida. :)

OK, this is not really fair because fellow DR members cannot pop down the street to procure, but one of the differences about shopping in DFW is the variety and abundance of fresh figs.  I took a pic this morning at Central Market, enclosed, to share with my fig-tree gifted neighbor back in Virginia.  I then saw this thread so had to post.  I am surprised by how popular fresh figs are here.

I want to figure out how to work with the fresh figs and duck breast or quail, two other prolific meats in this area.  Will report back on findings.

And lperry, if I discover any new vegetarian concoctions, will share the word!

Thanks!  As much as I was ready to leave Corpus Christi when I came here, I do miss all the amazing produce that came out of the valley year round.  Enjoy!

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I made an eggplant, fig, tomato sauté yesterday, w/ a bit of olive oil, thyme, & balsamic-it was pretty good. Now, I'm thinking about preserving some (figs only) in dark rum, w/ spices, does that sound good? i know I need to keep the figs submerged, to prevent bacterial growth.

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Is it the catbirds who are taking the first bite of my Chicago Hardy Figs?  The ants are also swarming the tree.  I have tanglefoot on the way to take care of the ants, but perhaps I should get a bird netting too. 

I'll try to get this link-to-a-post to work.  We discussed problems and solutions with bird netting in the home gardening forum.  My tree got too big to net this year, but that also means it outproduces what the birds can eat.  The catbird family keeps a sentry in the tree to keep all the other birds out, and they eat three or four a day.

Thistle, anything in dark rum sounds good!

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OK, this is not really fair because fellow DR members cannot pop down the street to procure...

...there is a fig tree down the mountain on my way to campus.  (It's a walking path that eventually becomes a street.)  The general rule is you can pick the ones that are on the public side of the fence or the ones that have fallen to the ground.  I went to a party last week where all we ate were figs from the tree and cheese.  I was never a fig fan until now.

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Lperry, I am jealous of your fig tree! I don't really have recipes to share, but I do remember a first date with my most recent ex-bf where he came to my house to cook me dinner and brought fresh figs from the tree in his "backyard" (from his row house in Fells Point amazingly!). We had a very nice salad with the figs, blue cheese, and vinaigrette.

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Eric, the farmer-UMD professor from Country Pleasures Farm was selling heirloom figs at the Dupont Market last Sunday: two of the three varieties brought back from France by Thomas Jefferson, he says. One is the Violette de Bordeaux, the precursor of the Black Mission fig. I can't recall the name of the other variety, but it looks like the Brown Turkey-type that grows in my yard. Expensive enough that my curiosity was piqued but not satisfied.

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...there is a fig tree down the mountain on my way to campus.  (It's a walking path that eventually becomes a street.)  The general rule is you can pick the ones that are on the public side of the fence or the ones that have fallen to the ground.  I went to a party last week where all we ate were figs from the tree and cheese.  I was never a fig fan until now.

Aren't tree-picked figs a-MAZ-ing? Are yours white or red?

I'm telling you in advance: watch out for worms. It's hard to tell which ones are infested until you bite in - sorry to piss on your fig parade. :)

I was walking along a mountain road in France with Karen, Tatie, and Therese, and was handed a fig by Therese, who had just plucked it from a tree. I bit into it, chewed, and swallowed. Then, I went to take my second bite, and saw about 20 little worms. I was doing a jig on the street, screaming, and spitting out fig - anyone seeing me from a distance would think I had some sort of affliction.

"Well, maybe I should have warned him," she said, with an incredibly casual lack of affectation, as I sat there hopping around and cursing like there were spiders all over me.

---

Separate but related: does anyone remember the berry tree that was outside of 2 Amys? It was right at the edge of the parking lot where they put up that fence to prevent pedestrians from cutting through. Therese used to pick berries from there every time we left the restaurant. They were great!

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I read an article the other day about guerrilla fig planting, & I'm taking cuttings from one of my fig trees that's quite prolific (Sandy's Strawberry Verte), but planted in a bad spot (blocking light/crowding a windmill palm). I think I'm going to try & surreptitiously plant seedlings at the edges of the park I live next to-I like the figs, my dog loves the figs, but the trees produce more than I can use. I have a Violette de Negronne, too-I've seen ants on overripe figs, but no worms, thank goodness. Before I planted them, I heard how tender figs were, & how you had to protect them-that's a laugh, mine are thugs, that need more pruning than I've been giving them.

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A friend gave us a bunch of wonderfully ripe Kadota figs right off her tree earlier this year. I didn't have time to do anything with them (except immediately stuff five or six in my face), so I froze them until I had some time on my hands. Yesterday, I made some of them into jam with balsamic vinegar and black peppercorns, and the rest I quartered and made into a compote-like thing with brown sugar and chopped ginger. The latter is quite delicious over plain yogurt with some walnuts.

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