The California Fresh Fig season is officially underway and, according to the California Fresh Fig Growers Association, this year’s crop is plump and plentiful. Get a taste at IFBC in Sacramento!
“California Fresh Figs were harvested in early July this year,” reports Karla Stockli, Chief Executive Officer, California Fresh Fig Growers Association. “The much needed rain in California, where 98 percent of the figs are grown domestically, allowed the figs to grow and mature into beautiful fruit. They are some of the sweetest figs I’ve ever tasted!”
All varieties – Black Mission, Brown Turkey, Calimyrna, Kadota, Sierra and Tiger Figs – are available now and in excellent quality. Fig aficionado and friend of the California Fig industry Chef Robert Del Grande of Houston’s highly-acclaimed Café Annie adds that everything except the stem is edible, and each variety has unique and different flavors.
Chef Del Grande offers these descriptions for cooking and pairing figs:
• Black Mission – Purple and black skin with deep earthy flavor like a Cabernet
• Calimyrna – Pale yellow skin with a buttery and nutty flavor like a Chardonnay
• Kadota – Creamy amber skin with a light flavor like a Sauvignon Blanc
• Brown Turkey – Light purple to black skin with robust flavor like a Pinot Noir
• Sierras – Light-colored skin with a fresh, sweet flavor like a Riesling
• Tiger Figs – Light yellow color with unique dark green stripes and a bright red-purple interior fruit with fruity, raspberry, citrus flavor
With California Fresh Figs now available in stores through December, California Fig farmers offer the following tips as a reminder when purchasing fresh figs:
• Look for the softest figs; a soft texture indicates the fruit is ready to consume immediately.
• Don’t be concerned about small slits or tears in the skin as long as the fig has a fresh aroma.
• Fresh figs are delicate. Handle gently.
• Keep figs in the refrigerator for as long as five to seven days.
• Too many to eat right away? Just rinse and freeze. Simply arrange in a single layer on a pan and put in the freezer. Transfer frozen figs to a sealed plastic bag, where they can be kept in the freezer for up to six months.
• Avoid figs with a fermentation odor; it indicates that the fruit is overripe.
An excellent source of dietary fiber, fresh, flavorful California figs are also high in antioxidants, fat-free, sodium-free and cholesterol-free. Available year-round, California Dried Figs are also an admired delicacy for their distinctive flavor and wholesome nutrients.
Never tried a fresh fig? While super delicious and sweet on their own, figs add flavor and fun to any summertime dish like this Fresh California Fig and Mustard Relish from Chef Del Grande which pairs deliciously with your favorite grilled meats. For more fresh and dried fig recipes from Chef Del Grande, plus more fig information, recipes and serving tips, visit www.californiafigs.com.
Fresh California Fig and Mustard Relish
By Chef Robert Del Grande, Café Annie Houston, Texas
6 fresh California Figs, large, finely minced or smashed
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons Italian parsley, minced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon salt
pinch red pepper flakes
pinch black pepper
In a skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the minced garlic and sauté until just cooked. Add the minced parsley and lightly cook. Transfer the garlic olive oil mixture to a bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to fully incorporate into a smooth relish. Serve with grilled or roasted poultry or meats.