Figs: picking tips, facts and recipes: Great things to make from fresh figs

This month's notes: July 2014: Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries tomatoes, corn and most vegetables are being picked in most places; strawberries are finishing or done; Peaches are in and early apples will start in late July. Find a local blueberry festival and blueberry picking tips here. See how easy it is to make strawberry jam or strawberry-rhubarb jam! Make your own homemade strawberry ice cream including low fat, low sugar and other flavors))  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!

Organic farms are identified in green!  See our guide to local fruit and vegetable festivals!. Please tell the farms you found them here - and ask them to update their information!!

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Fig Facts and Picking Tips

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 first frost in the South, and from 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.

Fig Varieties.

There are hundreds of fig varieties but the following are most commonly found in U.S. farms and markets.

Brown Turkey Figs: has brownish / copper-colored skin, often with hints of purple, and mostly pink/red flesh with some white flesh. This variety is used exclusively for the fresh fig market and is common at PYO farms..

Celeste figs are about the size of an egg, a purplish-brown when ripe, and a dark, sweet, moist, purple flesh inside.

The Calimyrna Fig: Is known for its nut-like flavor and golden skin. This type is commonly eaten as is.

The Mission Fig: Was named for the mission fathers who planted the fruit along the California coast. This fig is a deep purple which darkens to a rich black when dried. Often called "black mission figs".

The Kadota Fig: Is the American version of the original Italian Dattato fig, that is thick-skinned with a creamy amber color when ripe. Practically seedless, this fig is often canned and dried. A similar variety is the "Peter's Honey" fig.  Birds often leave these alone, because, since they are green when ripe, the birds don't know they're ripe!

How to know when a fig is ripe

Color - Figs come in all colors from yellow, brown, red to purple, black and others! So you need to know what color the ripe fig is. The most commonly grown figs, Brown Turkey and Celeste are a golden yellow as shown at left when ripe.

Texture - Ripe Figs Become soft like a peach when ripe, but they should not be mushy or fall apart!

Fig Picking Tips

Figs grown on low, open trees, with no thorns and soft leaves, so they're very easy to pick!  The ripe figs will separate easily from the tree when you lift them upwards from  their normal drooping position. The ripe figs definitely droop a bit and feel softer.  Unripe figs are harder, more firmly attached and do not droop. Note the orange, drooping Celeste figs at left.
Figs must be picked ripe from the trees, since they do not ripen once picked.  See the photo of unripe figs at left.
  • I have heard that some people are allergic to the fig latex, a milky white liquid produced by the fig tree and develop contact rashes. Just like with other latex allergies, if this applies to you be sure to wear and long sleeves when you pick and wear the appropriate type of gloves when picking or handling figs!

Storing fresh figs

Figs won't last long at room temperature, but a mildly cool refrigerator will keep them several days.

Freezing Figs

Freeze within 12 hours of picking time, if possible.  Prepare and freeze Figs only about 3 pints at one time. Then repeat the process until all Figs are frozen.

  1. Make a medium sweetness syrup of
    3 cups sugar
    4 cups water
    The figs will taste slightly sweeter than desired at this stage to be the proper flavor after freezing. Simply stir the sugar into the water to dissolve. No heating is necessary.
  2. To the sugar syrup, add an citric/ascorbic add mixture bought at the grocery store (for example, "Fruit Fresh") and follow the directions on the package, generally adding about 1 teaspoon per batch.  This is to help preserve color and flavor.
  3. Wash the figs. remove the stems and any soft spots. Slice the figs about ¼-inch (1/2 cm) thick.
  4. Pack the sliced figs into polyethylene containers, ziploc bags, or vacuum freezer bags, allowing room to add about 1/2 cup of sugar syrup, and allowing about 1/2 inch per pint expansion room. More room will be needed for larger containers. Pack the containers to force out as much air as possible since air dries out the figs when they freeze. Be sure to label and date containers.
  5. Place containers as quickly as possible into the coldest part of your freezer, allowing room around the containers to promote fast freezing. Containers can be packed more economically after they are frozen solid, usually 24 hours.

When you are ready to eat them, thaw the frozen figs in the refrigerator in the container.


Fig Preserving and Recipes:


 

                                                                                                                    
Common Fig Varieties and Uses

Variety

Fruit Color

Fruit Size

For Fresh Use

For Jams and Preserves

Alma Greenish brown Small  Very good  Good
Brown Turkey Bronze  ( yellow/brown) Medium to large Good  Excellent
Celeste Lt. brown  to violet  Medium Very good  Excellent
Green Ischia Bright green Medium  Good Good (seeds
objectionable)
Hunt Dull bronze with specks Small to medium Good Excellent
Kadota  Bright greenish-yellow Medium to large  Fair  Excellent
Magnolia  Bronze with 
white flecks
Medium  Fair Excellent

Other variants are:

  • five varieties of Celeste: giant, blue, golden, improved and regular.
  • LSU gold and purple;
  • Smith, which has a scarlet interior;
  • Clement, a Mediterranean variety;
  • Alma;
  • Hardy Chicago; and
  • Camelle.
  • More information: see Figs 4 Fun: Said to be the largest database of information about figs (Ficus carica) that is available on the internet.

Nutritional Information

Figs Serving Size 1/2 cup raw (74g)

Amounts Per Serving % Daily Value
Calories 90  
Calories from Fat 0  
Total Fat 0g 0%
 Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 0mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 24g 8%
  Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
  Sugars 11g
Protein 1g
Vitamin A 15%
Vitamin C 25%
Calcium 0%
Iron 2%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Below is the USDA's Food Value Per 100 g of Edible Figs

Fresh Dried
Calories 80 274
Moisture 77.5-86.8g 23.0g
Protein 1.2-1.3g 4.3g
Fat 0.14-0.30g 1.3g
Carbohydrates 17.1-20.3g 69.1g
Fiber 1.2-2.2 g 5.6 g
Ash 0.48 0.85 g 2.3 g
Calcium 35-78.2 mg 126 mg
Phosphorus 22-32.9 mg 77 mg
Iron 0.6-4.09 mg 3.0 mg
Sodium 2.0 mg 34 mg
Potassium 194 mg 640 mg
Carotene 0.013-0.195 mg
as Vitamin A 20-270 I.U. 80 I.U.
Thiamine 0.034-0.06 mg 0.10 mg
Riboflavin 0.053-0.079 mg 0.10 mg
Niacin 0.32-0.412 mg 0.7 mg
Ascorbic Acid 12.2-17.6 mg 0 mg
Citric Acid 0.10-0.44 mg

Note: There are small amounts of malic, boric and oxalic acids.

Growing tips

Fig trees are easily propagated through cuttings. In September or October, make a cutting and put it in a bucket with potting soil, or simply stick it in the ground and cover with mulch. One out of 10 will take, but once you've got a fig tree going, it's hard to kill. Protect it the first winter from frost with a deep mulch, and then it's on its own. After three years, it should start producing.

A reader suggests that the following method has a much higher rate of success:

Take a low-growing branch, about quarter to half inch (5 - 15 mm) diameter, and bury part in the soil. Put a stone or brick on top of the submerged section to stop it getting pulled out by wind or passing animals. After a year it will have rooted. Cut the parent branch and pot up or plant out the new plant.

Fig Preserving Directions

Frequently Asked Questions About Figs

  1. Q: I don't have enough ripe figs to make a batch of jam yet - how do I keep the ones I've picked until I have enough to make jam? Can I make jam from frozen figs - if I use your method to freeze?

    A: I just prepare them as if I were going to use them (in jam making or whatever) by washing, then cutting the stems off and peeling them (I like them peeled), then I pack them in a ziploc bag and pop them in the freezer. A few weeks in the freezer like that till I accumulate enough to make jam, won't hurt them! I've keep them in the freezer as long as several months until I made jam!

  2. Q. Is it possible to be allergic to figs?  I get an itchy rash that looks like poison ivy after handling them.

    A. Yes, others have reported allergic reactions to handling and eating figs.  See this scientific report on the subject.  Skin reactions are more common after handling hot peppers and mangos (see this page for more information) but it is not unheard of with figs.

     

Canning books

Canning & Preserving for Dummies
by Karen Ward
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The Ball Blue Book of Preserving

This is THE book on canning!  My grandmother used this book when I was a child.  It tells you in simple instructions how to can almost anything; complete with recipes for jam, jellies, pickles, sauces, canning vegetables, meats, etc.  If it can be canned, this book likely tells you how! Click on the link below for more information and / or to buy (no obligation to buy)

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Ball home canning kit water bath canner

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This is the same type of  standard canner that my grandmother used to make everything from applesauce to jams and jellies to tomato and spaghetti sauce. This complete kit includes everything you need and lasts for years: the canner, jar rack, jar grabber tongs, lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel, labels, bubble freer, and the bible of canning, the Ball Blue Book. It's much cheaper than buying the items separately. You'll never need anything else except jars & lids! To see more canners, of different styles, makes and prices, click here!For more information and current pricing:
 


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Lids, Rings, Jars, mixes, pectin, etc.

Need lids, rings and replacement jars?  Or pectin to make jam, spaghetti sauce or salsa mix or pickle mixes?  Get them all here, and usually at lower prices than your local store!

Get them all here at the best prices on the internet!


Remember to ALWAYS call the farm or orchard BEFORE you go - weather, heavy picking and business conditions can always affect their hours and crops!


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Remember to ALWAYS call the farm or orchard BEFORE you go - weather, heavy picking and business conditions can always affect their hours and crops!


PYO Farms in Other Countries: [ Australia ] [ Canada ] [ South Africa ] [ New Zealand ] [ United Kingdom ]

Our other free, informative sites you may like:

EHSO.com - Environmental health and safety information and guidance for the home
ConsumerFraudReporting.org - Information about identity theft, frauds and scams; how to report them and how to protect your identity.
FitnessAndHealthScience.org - Practical fitness, health and diet information that works.
And our other related websites!


Care to Donate to help me keep the website going? Donate to me at Benevia here:

Use the feedback form for questions, comments and feedback about farmsUse this form suggest a farm to add to the website
Or as a last result (I reply to the forms FIRST),write me at 
 Write to pickyourown.org
All images and text  Copyright ©
Benivia, LLC 2004 - 2012 All rights reserved.   
Disclaimer and Privacy Policy
Permission is given to link to any page on www.pickyourown.org Do NOT copy and republish this page in whole or part, that is a copyright violation which will be prosecuted: link to the page instead!
Looking for jobs on farms?  Farmers:
If you'd like to advertise or have your own web page(s), click here!


Remember to ALWAYS call the farm or orchard BEFORE you go - weather, heavy picking and business conditions can always affect their hours and crops!


PYO Farms in Other Countries: [ Australia ] [ Canada ] [ South Africa ] [ New Zealand ] [ United Kingdom ]

Our other free, informative sites you may like:

EHSO.com - Environmental health and safety information and guidance for the home
ConsumerFraudReporting.org - Information about identity theft, frauds and scams; how to report them and how to protect your identity.
FitnessAndHealthScience.org - Practical fitness, health and diet information that works.
And our other related websites!


Care to Donate to help me keep the website going? Donate to me at Benevia here:

Use the feedback form for questions, comments and feedback about farmsUse this form suggest a farm to add to the website
Or as a last result (I reply to the forms FIRST),write me at 
 Write to pickyourown.org
All images and text  Copyright ©
Benivia, LLC 2004 - 2012 All rights reserved.   
Disclaimer and Privacy Policy
Permission is given to link to any page on www.pickyourown.org Do NOT copy and republish this page in whole or part, that is a copyright violation which will be prosecuted: link to the page instead!
Looking for jobs on farms?  Farmers:
If you'd like to advertise or have your own web page(s), click here!


Remember to ALWAYS call the farm or orchard BEFORE you go - weather, heavy picking and business conditions can always affect their hours and crops!


PYO Farms in Other Countries: [ Australia ] [ Canada ] [ South Africa ] [ New Zealand ] [ United Kingdom ]

Our other free, informative sites you may like:

EHSO.com - Environmental health and safety information and guidance for the home
ConsumerFraudReporting.org - Information about identity theft, frauds and scams; how to report them and how to protect your identity.
FitnessAndHealthScience.org - Practical fitness, health and diet information that works.
And our other related websites!


Care to Donate to help me keep the website going? Donate to me at Benevia here:

Use the feedback form for questions, comments and feedback about farmsUse this form suggest a farm to add to the website
Or as a last result (I reply to the forms FIRST),write me at 
 Write to pickyourown.org
All images and text  Copyright ©
Benivia, LLC 2004 - 2012 All rights reserved.   
Disclaimer and Privacy Policy
Permission is given to link to any page on www.pickyourown.org Do NOT copy and republish this page in whole or part, that is a copyright violation which will be prosecuted: link to the page instead!
Looking for jobs on farms?  Farmers:
If you'd like to advertise or have your own web page(s), click here!