Figs are low in calories (about 35 calories each), high in fiber, potassium and naturally sweet. But these delicious sweet treats are a mystery food to many people in their fresh-from-the-tree-goodness. The majority of figs are dried before being sent to market and are available in their dried state year ’round and make for some wonderful baked goods. The fresh version of the fruit is just as tasty and can be cooked and paired with other foods like pears or apples. Use these tips for buying, storing and serving figs and give this low-calorie fruit a try.
Look for the same things in this fruit as you do in most others when buying – plump and heavy for their size, fragrant and a stem that has a little ‘give’ to it when slightly bent. A few puckers in the fruit skin indicate it is dead ripe and ready to be eaten.
How to Store
The draw-back to fresh figs is that they don’t store well. They’re highly perishable and won’t continue to ripen after picking. Eat fresh figs immediately or store in the bottom of refrigerator for up to two days. The storage issue is why the majority of figs are dried, it’s the best way to keep and store them.
How to Cook
Slice fresh figs in half length-wise and pan-sear in a little butter and serve as a sweet and savory side dish for pork chop. Sprinkle sliced halves with brown sugar and splash with balsamic vinegar, then broil until the sugar bubbles. The sliced halves can be brushed with melted butter or olive oil and grilled (cut side down) until golden brown and served as a sweet side for any grilled meat or along side of grilled vegetables. Fresh fig halves can be poached just like pear halves, poach in a spiced syrup for added flavor.
How to Serve
A spicy, poached fig half makes an elegant dessert when topped with a dollop of mascarpone or drizzled with cream.
The sweet flavor and soft texture of fresh figs pairs well with peppery greens like arugula or aged, salty cheese slices like Gruyere and Parmigiano Reggiano.
If you’re feeling adventurous in the kitchen or find yourself with an abundance of fresh figs, cook up a batch of fig compote or fig preserves and can in half-pint decorative jam jars for later use or to give as gifts.