Many gardeners find themselves with an abundance of unripe figs towards the end of the growing season. Unlike their ripened counterparts, these figs are small, firm and seemingly unyielding. In this article, we’ll explore some helpful tips on how to manage and make the most of your green figs.
Nurturing Your Fig Tree for Ripe Rewards
Fig trees are prolific, but sometimes, not all their fruits have the chance to ripen before the season ends. Here’s how you can guide your fig tree to focus its energy and produce ripe, delicious figs.
Pruning for Progress
In early spring, when the first leaves appear, pinch off the upper leafy portion of new shoots, leaving a 5-leaf branch. This reduces the number of figs and aids in more efficient ripening.
Thinning the Fig Herd
Mid-summer, if your tree is laden with too many figs, thin them out by selecting the smallest and greenest ones. This allows the tree to concentrate its resources on fewer fruits, improving the chances of ripening.
A Touch of Oil
Help your figs ripen faster by lightly brushing them with olive oil. This simple trick retains ethylene gas and can accelerate the ripening process, but be cautious not to cause unripe figs to fall prematurely.
If the weather turns cold and your figs need warmth to ripen, place them in a paper bag with a ripe banana. Bananas emit ethylene gas, which aids in the ripening process, making it a fruitful partnership.
Savoring the Green Delight
Sometimes, green figs can be just as delightful as their ripe counterparts. Here are three recipes that celebrate the unique flavors and textures of unripe figs.
Recipe 1: Pasta Perfection with Bacon and Green Figs
- Approximately 450 g of fettuccine pasta
- 1 medium-sized onion, finely chopped
- 340 g unripe, green figs – washed and finely chopped
- Approximately 110 g of pancetta (spicy Italian bacon made from pork belly), finely chopped
- A pinch of hot red pepper flakes
- ½ cup dry white wine
- Olive oil
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Heat olive oil in a pan and sauté the chopped onion until translucent. Add the bacon and fry for an additional 2 minutes over medium heat.
- Stir in the green figs and continue to fry until the bacon becomes crispy. Pour in the white wine and cook until the alcohol evaporates. Season with salt and pepper.
- Add half a cup of water and simmer for 15-20 minutes until the figs become soft and golden brown.
- Cook the fettuccine pasta in salted water. Reserve half a cup of the cooking water, then combine the pasta with the reserved cooking water. Sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese.
- Add the fig and bacon sauce, ensuring it coats the pasta thoroughly.
- Serve hot, garnished with more cheese.
Recipe 2: Grilled Unripe Figs with Balsamic Glaze
- 8-10 unripe, green figs
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon honey
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Fresh basil leaves, for garnish
- Preheat your grill to medium-high heat.
- Wash the unripe figs and cut them in half lengthwise.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, minced garlic, honey, salt and pepper to create a flavorful marinade.
- Place the fig halves in a shallow dish and drizzle the marinade over them. Toss gently to coat the figs evenly.
- Carefully place the fig halves on the preheated grill, cut side down. Grill for about 2-3 minutes, or until they develop grill marks and begin to caramelize.
- Flip the figs and grill for an additional 2-3 minutes, or until they are slightly softened and caramelized on both sides.
- Remove the grilled figs from the heat and arrange them on a serving platter.
- Garnish with fresh basil leaves for a burst of herbal aroma and flavor.
- Serve your grilled unripe figs as a delightful appetizer or side dish, or pair them with goat cheese and a drizzle of honey for an elegant dessert. These grilled figs showcase the sweetness of unripe figs with a delightful smoky twist.
Recipe 3: Green Fig Jam
- 1 kg unripe, green figs
- 1 kg of sugar
- 5 ½ cups of water
- Juice of 1 lemon
- 4 cloves
- Wash the figs and remove their stems.
- Boil the figs in a large pot of water for about 10 minutes, then allow them to cool.
- Once cooled, gently squeeze the figs to remove any lingering “unripe” aftertaste. Repeat the boiling and squeezing process once more.
- In another pan, boil 5 ½ cups of water with the sugar. Add the squeezed figs and cloves.
- Simmer for approximately 25 minutes, or until the jam thickens.
- Finally, add the lemon juice and continue to boil for another 5 minutes.
- To jar the jam, carefully ladle the hot mixture into sterilized glass jars, leaving a small space at the top to allow for expansion. Seal the jars while they are still hot. As the jam cools, you may hear the lids pop, indicating a successful seal.
- Store your homemade green fig jam in a cool, dark place for optimal freshness.
- Enjoy it on toast, in desserts, or as a delightful gift!
With these three recipes, you’ll be able to make the most of your unripe fig harvest, transforming them into delicious culinary creations that highlight their unique flavors and textures.
Green figs may start as a challenge, but with the right techniques and recipes, you can transform them into culinary delights. Whether you choose pasta with bacon and figs or the sweet allure of fig jam, these recipes are a testament to the delicious potential hidden within unripe figs. Experiment, savor and make the most of your fig harvest!