September is fig season!
There are different varieties, but the taste doesn’t vary that much. The yellow ones in the picture are actually called “white” and are as ripe as the purple and bi-coloured ones. Some are sweeter than others, some bigger, some trees give two crops, some an earlier or later crop.
Figs are actually quite expensive at the market, but right now they are down to a comparatively low 4 Euro per kilo, but getting them for free is even better.
How do I do this?
1) I have a friend who has a fig tree in her garden and doesn’t eat figs. Bingo!
2) Fig trees often grow wild along country roads. In ye olde days, people would pick anything edible, but in today’s weird world of processed foods, I don’t see many people picking anything anymore. We’re often the only ones to go out with two buckets to pick blackberries, for example, or hike up the mountains for wild blueberries. Seeing all those figs on the ground, smashed and rotting, it breaks my heart. I just try to make sure the tree doesn’t belong to someone. Sometimes I knock at the farmer’s door to ask if the fig tree is theirs, just to make sure.
3) Certain years, fig trees produce a huge crop. When that is the case, I sometimes ask the owners outright. “Hello! I was passing by your house and saw your fig tree is super mega full of fruit. Would you mind if I took a few to go with a cheese platter?” No-one can eat 5000 figs. Private people don’t sell them at the market. So far, I’ve never been turned down. Merci beaucoup!
Figs are a fragile fruit – actually, they’re not a fruit at all, but a flower – so you need to eat them quickly. You can keep them in the fridge for a couple of days, but they don’t like being crowded, so handle them with care and don’t pile them on top of each other.
Some ways to enjoy figs:
- au naturel… one of my sons eats them like apples. He just bites into them. It’s quite surprising, because the texture of the fig (rather than the taste) is not everybody’s cup of tea and takes some getting used to. Also, figs are ambiguous when it comes to taste, and go well with both sweet and savoury foods and both raw or cooked. I love them on a simple cheese platter, with Basque sheep’s milk cheese, for example.
- with meat… Make a pork roast and drop a few figs into the roasting tin 5 minutes before the end. Grill a turkey breast and serve with caramelized figs.
- in jam… some people put them in the jars whole and preserve them, some chop them up (I do). Fig jam works wonderfully well with foie gras!
- fig tart… with lime mascarpone and roasted pistacios. (You will sell your soul.)
- as a starter, under the grill with some heat and some sweet… my favourite! See below:
- Incise your figs in a cross to open up the top.
- Cut a medium-dry goat’s cheese into chunks and push into the top of the fig (I usually use a Crottin de Chavignol or similar)
- Spinkle over a pinch of Fleur de Sel salt crystals and season generously with pepper from the mill
- Drizzle over some liquid honey.
- Optional (but totally essential at the same time, believe me): Cut some fresh Cayenne chili into thin slices and put on top of the figs.
- Grill for 5-10 minutes.
Eat this with some grilled bread while sipping on some white wine as an apéritif, or accompany it with some green salad as a pretty and delicious starter. Or throw a steak on the barbeque and eat the figs as “veg”… It’s all good. The sweet and hot and salty fruit/flower just goes WOW! in your mouth. I love it.
So… what happens when you don’t give a fig? You get to eat them all! (But I am willing to share)