Although dried figs are available throughout the year, there is nothing like the unique taste and texture of fresh figs. They are lusciously sweet with a texture that combines the chewiness of their flesh, the smoothness of their skin, and the crunchiness of their seeds.
The majority of figs are dried, either by exposure to sunlight or through an artificial process, creating a sweet and nutritious dried fruit that can be enjoyed throughout the year.
Fresh figs are one of the most perishable fruits. Look for figs that have a rich, deep colour and are plump and tender, but not mushy. They should have firm stems and be free of bruises. They should have a mildly sweet fragrance and should not smell sour. When purchasing dried figs, make sure they are still relatively soft, free of mould, and have a mellow, pleasant smell
Ripe figs should be kept in the refrigerator where they will stay fresh for about two days. You should store them either arranged on a paper towel-lined plate or shallow container. They should be covered or wrapped to ensure that they do not dry out, get crushed or pick up odours from neighbouring foods. Dried figs will stay fresh for several months and can either be kept in a cool, dark place or stored in the refrigerator. They should be well wrapped so that they are not over exposed to air that may cause them to become hard or dry.
Figs are a good source of dietary fibre, potassium, manganese, carbohydrates, sugar, soluble and insoluble fibre, sodium, vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and more.
Now for a recipe.
Fig and Mozzarella Salad
Ripe figs, stalks trimmed: 8
Balsamic vinegar: 4 tbsp
Extra virgin olive oil: 2 tbsp
Lemon, zest grated: 1 no.
Thyme: 1 tbsp
Mint leaves: 10 nos.
Mozzarella: 150 gm
Lettuce: 50 gm
Method: Cut each fig lengthways into four wedges. Make a marinade by whisking the vinegar, oil and lemon juice with salt and pepper to taste. Stand the fig wedges up in the middle of a large shallow serving dish, keeping them close together. Scatter the lemon zest and thyme on top, then drizzle with the marinade. Leave the mixture to stand at room temperature for 30 minutes. Roughly chop the mint. Drain and slice the mozzarella, toss with half the mint and season with salt and pepper to taste. To serve, arrange the mozzarella and mint mixture around the figs, scatter with lightly torn lettuce and the remaining mint, and drizzle with a little olive oil.
Executive Chef,Vivanta by Taj – Fisherman’s Cove, Chennai)