Thursday, June 19, 2014

Forage for Figs: The Sweetness of Summer


“Once I was in Italy visiting my Aunt when I was a kid. We were driving along the coast and I asked ‘What are those things hanging from the trees?’ She replied with a question ‘Have you really never seen a fig before?’ I replied that I had not and she promptly pulled the car over, grabbed one of the fruits from the tree (almost double the size of my fist) and made me give it a try. I liked it so much that I ran over to the grove and stuffed all of my pockets with fruit!”-Nick

The heat wave over the last week ripened up our figs in a hurry. I had been watching a particular group of figs on public land since discovering their bounty rotting on the ground just a few weeks too late after moving to the area. There was no way I was going to let these figs drop this year!

My friends Nick, Kate, and Houston were all ready for a day to unwind after the quarter and the promise of a sweet bounty of figs was enticing enough that not one of them resisted an afternoon of foraging with their crazy ol’ buddy…me!

We headed out early armed with the fruit picker (thank you Ron!) and migrated from patch to patch. The first stop proved to be full of fruit, but all were dry and nasty… so it was not really fruitful! The next stop was a tree I had been watching closely and it had some real gems! These were a variety of fig that are dark in color and sweet as honey.


The next stop was for the big green figs. These are not as sweet, eaten while green with a little yellow to their skin, but every bit as delicious. There was a lot of laughing that day, and other that one of our crew falling from the canopy and sustaining a concussion (and further illustrating that the theory of gravity resists falsification), we had a really good time. All in all it was an excellent beginning to a harvest that will continue for weeks.

I dried some of the figs alongside some of the last apricots for trail snacks. Then I used my Mom’s go-to recipe: grilled figs with balsamic vinegar and blue cheese. These we paired with crustini, green onion cream cheese, olives, pear, and some landlocked smoked salmon that my buddy Sam caught, smoked, and generously gave to us the last time he was in town. It was a heck of a spread and so tasty I really can’t describe.

Before beginning my investigation of figs, I had believed that there were only a few easily distinguishable types. It turns out there are so many varieties of figs that I can honestly say that I have no idea what kind of figs these are! So to me they will be referred to as "Dark Honey" and the "Green Goblin." 

Well, I have a couple hours to kill while my girl is in class…I’m going fishing!

Keep the old ways alive! 



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