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Chef's Tips for Seasonal Food: Figs

September 22, 2015

Luscious, sweet figs are among the oldest cultivated fruits and are prized for their honeyed flavor and soft, jammy texture. Although dried figs are available all year, fresh figs are just as sweet and offer a more unique texture. They grow on a ficus tree (Ficus carica) and range dramatically in color. You'll find fresh California figs in markets in September. They are high in fiber, vitamin B6, copper, manganese, potassium, and pantothenic acid. Following are my tips for fig varieties, selection, and storage as well as a recipe to try in your kitchen.

Fig Varieties

There are hundreds of varieties. Here are some commonly grown figs:

  • Black Mission: Dark purple or almost black in color, mission figs are moist and flavorful.
  • Brown Turkey: Sometimes labeled Purple Turkey, these figs are milder and less sweet. They also have fewer seeds and are brownish-purple in color.
  • Calimyrna: Light green in color and larger in size, Calimyrnas have a nutty taste.
  • Kadota: This common fig is yellowish-green in color and the flesh is especially smooth and silky. It's less sweet than most figs.
  • Adriatic: Sometimes labeled as "white figs" or "candy-striped figs," these extra-sweet figs are pale green or yellow outside and pink or red inside.

How to Select and Store Figs

  • Choose soft, plump figs with intact, bent stems. Minor bruises or tears are usually harmless but avoid buying dry, cracked figs.
  • Fresh figs are perishable, so select ones with deep color that are plump and tender but not mushy.
  • Shelf life in the refrigerator is about two days wrapped in paper towel in a sealed container.

Recipe: Warm Fresh Figs with Caramel Ice Cream

Serves 5


  • 10 firm fresh figs, cut into halves
  • 3 ounces brown sugar
  • 4 ounces butter
  • 3 ounces Myers's rum
  • 3 ounces fig liquor
  • Your favorite vanilla ice cream

Recipe Steps:

  1. Melt butter in a pan on medium heat.
  2. Add sugar to the pan and cook until it turns an amber color, about 1-2 minutes.
  3. Stir in the figs and coat them with the caramelized sugar.
  4. Pour the rum and fig liquor into the pan and flambé. Stand back from the pan as the figs flame.
  5. When flames calm, remove pan from stovetop.
  6. Spoon the fig mixture over a scoop of your favorite vanilla ice cream.