August 28, 2011 7:04 PM   Subscribe

FIIIIIGS! We're moving to a house that has a fig tree! Looking for fig recipes, but also any information about preserving/canning/pickling/drying/freezing them. Also, how do I know if they are green figs or black figs (ours appears to have both) and what's the difference?

I found this previous question, and it's totally helpful. It's from 2004 though and I know there's a lot more people on the site now.

Our fig "tree" is really more like a tall bush right now; not sure if they necessarily have to be on a tree or not, but it doesn't look like one just yet. We got to have some of the figs when we went to sign the lease agreement, and they're great! However, I'm a bit confused about the colors; the same shrub had black ones and green ones, and both were great. The black ones were a little softer, but both were pretty soft, and they both tasted good and not too mushy. To be honest, there wasn't a big difference between the black and green ones, so the ripeness thing doesn't seem clear to me yet.

My questions:
1. When I go to the store, I usually see black and green figs separated; is there a reason for this? Are they different varieties, or different ripenesses from the same fruit? What is the difference supposed to be?


3. I'm planning to go gardening crazy within the sanity limits of our lease, so I'm VERY interested in any fig recipes that involve canning, pickling, drying, freezing, or otherwise preserving figs. I'm going to be SO up in all that, yes I am. I have a few books that address the general processes of these things, but anything helpful you can suggest in this area is great. Don't be afraid to suggest gadgets.
posted by Nattie to Food & Drink (19 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Black and green figs are indeed different varieties. I grew up eating Kadotas (green) and Black Missions (black) but there are others too. Probably if yours are coming from the same plant they were grafted together at some point, which is pretty cool.

Figs are really good dried and made into jams. Someone I know candied them which was both delicious and amazing because the fig candying process has the awesome byproduct of fig syrup which you can use wherever you'd use maple syrup - great on pancakes, that sort of thing.
posted by troublesome at 7:24 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: This question has good answers. Based on my past experience with fig trees, you will have enough figs to try any recipe that strikes your fancy!
posted by TedW at 7:30 PM on August 28, 2011

Best answer: Are you sure the green ones aren't just unripe ones?

Biggest problem we have growing figs is birds eating them. You may need to invest in a bird net.
posted by wilful at 7:38 PM on August 28, 2011

Response by poster: Oh wow, I really hope we have a freaky grafted tree! I think the black ones were a big lower down, so that could be it! Once we move in I'll get a better look and see if it's grafted. If the green ones were merely unripe figs, they looked exactly the same inside, were just as soft, and just as sweet and awesome. I don't know if that sometimes happens with black figs or not. I figure I'll also know eventually just by watching how dark they get, if at all.

Thank you for the link to that question! I'll probably buy the Fig Heaven book linked there.

Thank you for the bird net tip! They seemed surprisingly untouched when we were there, but it's good to know ahead of time such a thing exists if they show up later.
posted by Nattie at 7:49 PM on August 28, 2011

Best answer: Squeeze the ripe figs top open them up
Fill with goat cheese and some thyme leaves
Wrap in grape leaves or tin foil and grill till cheese is all melty and overflowing
say nom!
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 7:55 PM on August 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

top = to open
posted by babbyʼ); Drop table users; -- at 7:56 PM on August 28, 2011

Best answer: Before you get to all that recipe and canning stuff, you need to KEEP THE FIGS FROM BEING EATEN by the various critters that want to eat the figs, including birds and rats.

We have never been able to eat any of the figs from our fig tree because they are all gone before they get ripe.
posted by parrot_person at 8:06 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Our next door neighbors have a prolific fig tree (black figs), and every crop it's a fight between us, the birds, the rats, and the possums. Net the tree, and you may want to put a metal sleeve around the trunk to keep the climbing critters off (you can make one out of #10 cans).
posted by rtha at 8:51 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: so this is almost too simple to be called a recipe, but I'm always so happy when a party I'm at has these: figs cut in half, with a blop of goat cheese stuck on top, and dark honey drizzled on top.

Enjoy your tree!
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:01 PM on August 28, 2011

Best answer: We had the same joy a few years ago, moved into a rental that had a huge black mission fig tree in the backyard. Sweet jesus, it's the best thing to have out there.

I honestly can't get enough of them fresh of the tree, but for everyday eating, especially in the summer time when the grill is going pretty regularly, we cut them in half and then throw them on the grill, face down for a minute or two..just enough to caramelize a little bit. Then we copy fingersandtoes and throw some chevre or feta on there, with honey or a drop of balsamic vinegar. they also make a fantastic ice cream topping. And i've been known to make whole bowls of oatmeal populated with nothing but figs and honey. or whole bowls of (non-flavored) yogurt and honey and figs. figs and honey, honey and figs.

Fig jam is also the best: there are infinite numbers of recipes available on google for this one. But the best fig preserves i've found are similar to this recepie for Figs in Brandy and have experimented with a couple other types of booze too. Pair this with duck anyway-you-want and the brandy that you used to make it, and you'll have a super fucking elegant dinner come fall-time.

If we were staying here another year (i am sad to leave it), I would purchase a food dehydrator to preserve them too, because we get billions of them every year.

We've also not had any wildlife eat ours. ymmv.
posted by furnace.heart at 9:09 PM on August 28, 2011

Best answer: I had bacon wrapped figs once that were amazing! Not sure the recipe that was used, but google indicates there are a bunch out there to try.

I tried vegetarian pigs-in-a-blanket with dried figs instead sausage that were quite tasty. I bet they would serially rock with a bit of cheese wrapped in the dough with the fig.
posted by HMSSM at 9:10 PM on August 28, 2011

Best answer: Fig and goat cheese and Arugula pizza!
posted by purenitrous at 9:53 PM on August 28, 2011

Best answer: PIE!

Cut 5 or 6 cups of figs into quarters.
Macerate with sugar to taste, a tablespoon or two of cinnamon and a few tablespoons of cornstarch.
Put into your standard two-crust pie crust. Put a few tabs of butter on top of fruit. Lay on the top crust, seal and bake as per any other pie.

pie . . .
posted by Seamus at 10:12 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Find a recipe for Croatian style fig orange preserves. Talk about your fig heaven! I like to take dried Zmission figs and fill them with cream cheese.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 10:16 PM on August 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Dry them in the sun and braid in various shapes, like this.
posted by leigh1 at 2:07 AM on August 29, 2011

The leaves and the skin of figs are irritating. You might want long sleeves and gloves as you work around your tree.
posted by SandiBeech at 3:31 AM on August 29, 2011

What we had for dinner last night: grilled cheese sammiches with fig butter, walnuts and that shredded smoked-cheese blend from Trader Joe's (sub smoked gouda if you can't get the TJ's stuff).

Fig butter would go a long way towards making Giant Stack Of Figs a much smaller stack of figs, I would thing...
posted by at 6:57 AM on August 29, 2011

Figs omg figs. Put them all in a box and mail them to me, better yet send me your address so I can come and stand under tree and stuff my face with figs, more figs, FIIIIIGGGS!!!

Sorry, figs make me go kind of crazy.

Favorite fig things

Figs w/ salty stuff:

- grill cut figs briefly, just long enough to put a little caramel on the cut faces. Wrap in good proscuitto.

- heartier: Wrap whole figs tightly in raw bacon; secure with a skewer. Grill or broil until the bacon is crisp. Stick a scoop of marscapone or ricotta on the side, drizzle with honey.

- FUCK YEAH FIG SANDWICHES. Layer quartered figs, sharp cheddar, and fresh thyme on sturdy buttered bread. Grill as for a grilled cheese sandwich. Or make a pressed sandwich with figs, fresh basil, and buffalo mozz. Or with figs, fresh chevre, and thyme. OR with ham/proscuitto. Or seriously blue cheese and walnuts.

- Fig pizza, with figs/chevre/herbs. Make sure your crust is thin and you can fire them hot and fast.

- Fig as vegetable: Skewer figs with chunks of lamb. Brush with oil/rosemary/balsamic. Grill. Or add a handful of figs to the end of roasting root vegetables. GAH.

Figs w/ sweet stuff:

- This absurd Fig and Frangipane Tart (self link) is completely insane and so ridiculously delicious I cant even I don't omg. Make a rough puff pastry; roll it out more or less into a circle; transfer to a baking sheet lined with silpat or parchment; smear with frangipane (grind butter, almonds, and sugar together in a FP), top with halved or quartered figs. Fold the edges of the tart up. Bake at 400F until the pastry is golden brown.

- Fig jam is SO EASY, either the quick kind with added pectin or the old-fashioned long-cooked kind. Recipes abound.

- brandied figs, so easy and amazing in the winter spooned over ice cream or a panna cotta or just shoveled in your mouth standing in the pantry. Bring one part water, one part brandy, and two parts sugar to a boil; fill sterile jars with firm figs and cover with syrup. Add a long twist of orange peel or—wait for it—rosemary to the jar. Process for 5 minutes/pint in a BWB.

posted by peachfuzz at 8:09 AM on August 29, 2011 [2 favorites]

You absolutely have to water the tree regularly. I have a dear friend with a fig tree. It is covered with figs this summer. I grabbed a shopping bag full to make jam.

EVERY SINGLE FIG was dry as a bone in the center.

Again, you must, no matter how healthy it is, regularly water your tree.
posted by Sophie1 at 12:04 PM on August 29, 2011

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