Fig recipes: Great things to make from fresh figs
This month's notes: July 2016: Strawberries have a very brief season; and the start in early April in the South, don't miss them: See your state's crop availability calendar for more specific dates of upcoming crops. And see our guide to local fruit and vegetable festivals, such as strawberry festivals and blueberry festivals. Organic farms are identified in green! Also make your own ice cream - see How to make ice cream and ice cream making equipment and manuals. Have fun, eat healthier and better tasting, and save money by picking your own locally grown fruit and vegetables, and then using our easy canning and freezing directions
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Many Americans have never eaten a fresh fig. I blame fig newtons and dried figs - those are NOTHING like a fresh fig. A fresh fig tastes like a mix of a peach and a strawberry!
In the U.S., Figs typically peak from July through Frost in the South, and August and later in the North. Usually the trees produce a crop within a month, and then nothing for several months, so check your local farm to find out when they'll be in season. In the north, most trees only produce one crop per season. In order to produce good local Figs, producers depend on ideal spring and early summer weather conditions, and no late frosts.
Want to make your own candied figs? Begin by picking your own figs from local tree then after washing the figs, fill up the pot (a crock-pot is an easier method) three quarters of the way, then add about 10 pounds of sugar and one thin sliced lemon. Start slow, letting the sugar melt, because it will burn. And then just let it cook. It takes a long time to do figs. It's usually an all day process. When you pick up your syrup on your spoon you don't want it to run off, you want it to go drop, drop."
Fig Ice Cream
Makes 2 quarts
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 4 cups coarsely chopped fresh figs
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (you can substitute Stevia (or if you prefer, Splenda))
- 3 tablespoons flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk (any type, whole, skim, lowfat, fat-free)
- 3 ½ cups half-and-half (you can use the fat free type to make a lower calorie, more healthy version)
- 2 eggs beaten
- 2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
Heat butter in a non-stick skillet. Add fresh figs and brown sugar and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from stove and stir in cinnamon.
In a saucepan combine sugar or Stevia (or if you prefer, Splenda), flour and salt. Slowly whisk in milk and 1 ½ cups half-and-half. Cook over medium heat for 15 minutes until mixture starts to thicken, stirring constantly. Gradually stir one cup of hot half-and-half mixture into beaten eggs. Then stir egg-half-and-half mixture into milk mixture, stirring constantly. Cook over medium heat for one minute. Stir in cooked figs and cook for an additional minute. Refrigerate mixture for two hours or overnight.
Stir in remaining two cups of half-and-half and vanilla extract. Freeze mixture in an ice cream maker according to manufacturers' directions.
Fig jelly with lavender
Makes 2 pounds
- 2 pounds ripe figs
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- Zest of ½ lemon
- 5 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 ½ tablespoons finely chopped preserved stem ginger
- 10 heads lavender, tied in muslin
- 1 tablespoon pine nuts
- 1 tablespoon brandy
Peel half the figs, chop them all roughly. Put them in a broad, heavy saucepan with the sugar, lemon zest and juice, ginger and lavender. Bring them slowly to a boil and then boil quite fast for 15-20 minutes, until the scum has vanished. (Don't bother testing for a firm set, as this preserve sets remarkably quickly and has soon passed the point of no return.)
Take off the heat, discard the lavender and stir in the pine nuts. Spoon into warm, sanitized jars and leave to cool. Later, cover with circles of waxed paper dipped in brandy, and close tightly.
From "The Herb Book" by Arabella Boxer, Thunder Bay Press, 1996
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