Summer is slowly coming to an end but on the positive note, late summer brings with it the juiciest, sweetest figs. Today I’ll be sharing with you some tips on how to peel and prepare fresh figs, plus some delicious, healthy recipes that the entire family will love.
My in-laws, who live in Sardinia, Italy have a vast garden that includes not one, but three fig trees. My son has made it his duty to accompany nonno first thing every morning to pick the ripest figs from the trees. He has literally become a fig connoisseur overnight, explaining in detail how to decipher which figs are perfectly ripe, just about ripe, and which are unsuitable for picking, and not to mention detailed instructions on how to pick them from tree as well.
Figs might be small but they are packed with essential vitamins and nutrients including fiber, calcium, manganese, iron, potassium and health-boosting antioxidants. They are also unbelievably versatile-they make very unique savoury starters, for example wrapped with prosciutto or as an addition to a cheese board, or lend a fresh element in sweet dishes, such as tarts and muffins.
The plus side of growing your own fig trees is that you can eat them right from the tree, skin and all. Fresh figs can be eaten with the skin on although some recipes suggest that they be peeled- for example jam, most likely to ensure a smoother texture. While dried figs are readily available in grocery stores, fresh ones are sometimes difficult to find and can become quite pricey when out of season. When I do purchase them at home in Canada, I prefer peeling the skins since they may contain residual pesticides. Although I love incorporating fresh figs in recipes, my favourite way to eat them is freshly picked from the tree. Sometimes we drizzle them with raw, local honey or add crumbled pistachios or almonds for texture.
Figs do not ripen after being picked so it is best to avoid unripe figs. On the other hand, when fully ripe, fresh figs become very soft and have a honey-like nectar that oozes from the bud side, making them hard to peel. Always choose figs that are richly coloured, plump and soft, but with unbroken skins. They should have a mild scent and give very slightly to a firm touch with your fingers.
Figs have a very short life span. After harvesting, they will only keep for a few days at best. Store them in the refrigerator in a shallow Tupperware bottom lined with paper towels and loosely covered with plastic wrap for no more than three days.
Cut or twist the stem off, then score (make an “X”) the top of the fig (about 1/3 of the way) with a sharp knife.
Spread out the four sections. Place a sharp knife between the skin and the pulp on each individual piece, then slice through about ¾ of an inch down.
Peel the skin (from top to bottom) using your hands or a sharp knife, until you reach the bottom side of the fig. Remove and discard the skin.
Cut off the remaining skin on the bottom side of the fig, leaving only the pulp.
Figs also great additions to smoothies, since they blend well and add natural sweetness. This Turmeric-Spiced Fig & Banana Smoothie is a simple and nutritious recipe, ideal for babies and kids of all ages.
Ingredients (Yields one serving)
1 ripe banana, sliced into 1-2 inch pieces
4 fresh figs, peeled and stems removed
⅛ tsp. cinnamon
1-2 tsp. raw honey or maple syrup (optional)
¼ cup unsweetened coconut milk (or more, depending on desired consistency)
Peel the banana, then chop into quarters. Peel the figs then add to a blender with the bananas and the remaining ingredients. Blend on high speed for 1-2 minutes until combined and smooth.
Here are some more delicious fig recipes: