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What are figs?

Fresh Figs

For a long time, figs were a very mysterious fruit to me – and I’m sure they were to many others who did not see them regularly. Although many people in my area had fig trees, I rarely saw anyone harvesting or eating the fruit when I was growing up, so the first item I was faced with a basket at the farmers’ market, I hesitated before picking them up. Figs are actually not berries, as you might expect. They are the flowers of the fig plant, where the seeds and petals grow together into the edible fruit that we recognize.

There are many different varieties of fig, each with a slightly different color of skin and flesh, but all can be handled in pretty much the same way. Figs are eaten whole (after washing, of course). There is no pit or other large seeds to get in the way of their sweet, jammy flavor. Their skin is very thin and tender and puts up basically no resistance. A ripe fig is slightly soft and gives under light pressure. Figs can be used whole in recipes, can be cooked down into a jam with sugar and water, or can be dried and used in recipes that way.

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7 Comments
  • Dolce
    September 18, 2009

    Oh the beautiful aroma of a fig tree when you walk by in the south of France… Just that would be enough to make me buy a place ticket right away!

  • leigh anne
    September 18, 2009

    i am so intimated by figs 🙁 but i’d love to learn how to make a few recipes with them!

  • sarah
    September 18, 2009

    i have always wondered how to eat figs–thanks for info!

  • Dianne
    September 20, 2009

    I did not try figs until last year and immediately wanted to smack myself. Why did I wait so long??! Perfectly ripe figs are a bite of heaven! I see a lot of fig recipes, but my figs never last long enough to make their way into a recipe.

  • Melissa
    September 20, 2009

    When I worked in the Middle East, we had a fig tree right outside our barracks. None of us knew what the fruit was until we saw the cleaner pop one in his mouth. Having a fig tree was pretty neat, I must say. 🙂

  • Alan Breen
    September 20, 2009

    Why is it that the way something looks makes us not want to try it or the sound of the name. I just tried figs last year and I love them.

  • Rita
    September 21, 2009

    I live in Greece where there are fig trees everywhere! They are delicious especially when candied. They taste amazing on cupcakes as a garnish as well!

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