Perfectly ripe figs are amazing eaten out of hand, they are also great in simple preparations, some raw and others cooked.
Fresh figs have two seasons - a short one in early summer and a main crop running from late summer through fall. Here are some of the more widely available varieties:
KADOTA is less sweet than some and has light-green skin and few seeds.
CALIMYRNA is large, with golden skin, pinkish-white flesh, and a nutty flavor.
BLACK MISSION is very sweet and has blackish-purple skin and pink flesh.
BROWN TURKEY is large with maroon skin and mild flavor.
When you choose figs, look for fruits that are heavy for their size and soft, yielding to gentle pressure. A ripe fig can be plump, but often the best ones are a little shrunken and wrinkled, possibly showing cracks in the skin. Avoid fruits that are very firm or overly squishy or that show signs of milky sap at the stem. And look carefully for signs of mold, the biggest enemy of ripe figs.
Figs are great with a wide range of partners. It’s hard to go wrong if you pair figs with items grown or produced in areas where grow, such as:
Nuts - all kinds
Citrus and vinegars - particularly lemon, orange, grapefruit; balsamic, red wine, brandy, rum, port, and sherry.
Cured meats - ham, pancetta, bacon.
Pungent aromatic - anchovies, capers, olives, garlic.
Spices and herbs - warm spices like cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cardamom, and star anise; mint, rosemary, thyme, and lavender.
Dairy - butter, cream, mascarpone, crème fraiche, and cheeses of all kinds. Figs with blue cheese is an outrageously good combination.
Try this Fig & Prosciutto Sandwich recipe from Martha Stewart Magazine with your Fresh Figs from Howie's Market! These open-faced sandwiches are layered with dollops of mascarpone cheese and mint leaves.