As we near the end of summer (can you believe it?), and move into fall, the air gets cooler at night, the garden growth is starting to slow, and I am once again anticipating a bumper crop of this delicious fruit. Did you know that in many cultures’ figs represent abundance, good fortune, and prosperity? They are considered a sacred fruit by Hindis and Buddhists alike, and a fig tree is a popular element of feng shui, the Chinese craft of balancing the harmony of a household to bring good luck and fortune.
Most people I know are not fig fans, but I am out to change that. It isn’t that people don’t like them, it is usually that they have never had them. Some folks have only seen the cookie Fig Newtons (or is it cake?), preserves, or a dried type of fig.
Fresh figs don’t travel well, but when you have a large tree in your yard like we do, you are going to enjoy some figs, let me tell you. Fresh figs are in season from late summer through early autumn in the Northern Hemisphere and can tolerate some frost.
Most figs are grown in the Mediterranean, particularly Turkey, with the North African countries of Egypt, Morocco and Algiers producing over 60% of commercially grown figs. Did you know that the fig is one of the first plants to be cultivated by humans, predating wheat, legumes, and barley?
The Greeks and Romans both ate figs, and it is rumored that Rome’s first emperor, Augustus, was poisoned by his wife, Livia, with figs laced with a poison.
Figs were grown in far-reaching places all over the world, from Portugal to India and Cardinal Pole installed fig trees in London at Lambeth Palace. By the mid-eighteenth century, missionaries in California cultivated figs, and this is the Mission variety we commonly see here today.
And figs are good for you. Raw figs are made up of 79% water, 19% carbohydrate and are a moderate source of dietary fiber. When dehydrated to 30% water, the carbohydrate content jumps to 64%, and these dried figs become a rich source of dietary fiber, with more than 20% DV. They are a great source of iron, and vitamins A, C,K, and B, as well as potassium, magnesium and zinc.
What to do with all of these figs? Well, I have given a lot away, but I still have so many I decided to look up some recipes to take advantage of them before they become overripe and spoiled.
I made this delicious Fig Cake with Almond & Honey, courtesy of a recipe from The Mediterranean Dish. Not too sweet, yet very satisfying. What do you think?
I plan on cooking some chicken thighs with figs in a balsamic glaze later today for dinner and am looking forward to the raves. Again, another super simple recipe, shared below.
And I always like to make chutney, so I will find one for figs. Fig bread, cake and preserves are all good choices too. Adding some fresh figs to a salad adds another dimension to your greens, so give it a try. And you can put figs on your pizza, of course!
Here are some terrific recipes for you to try as you explore the benefits of fresh figs right now while they are in season:
Fresh Fig Salad
5 oz. baby greens
10 figs (quartered)
3 oz. prosciutto
1/3 cup roasted salted pistachios
4 oz. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp. honey
Salt & Pepper to taste
Combine the greens, fig quarters, prosciutto and pistachios together in a bowl.
Make a salad dressing with the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, Dijon mustard and honey, whisked together. Or put the ingredients in a jar, and shake vigorously.
Toss the salad and top with Parmesan.
Fresh figs and Chicken Thighs in a Balsamic Glaze
8 skinless, boneless chicken
salt and ground black pepper to
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive
10 fresh figs, stemmed and
1½ cups chicken broth
¼ cup balsamic vinegar
1 large shallot, sliced lengthwise
1 tablespoon minced fresh
fresh rosemary, for garnish
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until
shimmering. Add chicken thighs and cook, 3 to 4 minutes on each
Add figs, chicken broth, balsamic vinegar, and shallot. Bring
contents to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and let simmer until chicken
thighs are no longer pink in the centers and an instant-read
thermometer inserted into the centers reads at least 165 degrees F
(74 degrees C), about 8 minutes.
Transfer thighs to a serving plate
and keep warm.
Remove figs from the skillet using a slotted spoon and place them
around the chicken on the plate.
Add minced rosemary to the skillet contents, increase heat to
medium-high, and allow contents to come to a full boil to create a
the reduction. Continue to boil, stirring often, until liquid reduces to
approximately 1 cup, 8 to 10 minutes.
Drizzle balsamic reduction
over chicken and figs and garnish with rosemary sprigs. Serve warm
Let me know in the comments what you think! Thumbs up or down for figs? And if you would like the ridiculously easy and tasty Fig Cake, with Almond &Honey recipe, email me.