FRESNO, Calif., Aug. 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- As the old saying goes, good things come to those who wait. The classic expression holds true for the 2011 California fresh fig season. Late season rains caused a slight delay to the much anticipated availability of California fresh figs, but fig farmers are reporting that the main crop harvest is underway now and fresh figs grown in California will be plentiful until mid-December.
California Fig growers report excellent quality with full flavor across all varieties and encourage consumers to enjoy them all – Black Mission, Brown Turkey, Calimyrna, Kadota and Sierra. In a year being celebrated by the California fig industry as the "Year of the Fig," these luscious-addictive-succulent fresh California Figs are the reason chefs and consumers are enthusiastic for the fruit.
"We are thrilled to see excitement for the fig beyond the classic, delicious Newton," says Karla Stockli, Chief Executive Officer, California Fresh Fig Growers Association. "California figs are world renowned for their versatility and unique flavor and have been treasured by the culinary elite for years. Because of the strong affinity among top chefs, along with an increasingly sophisticated consumer palate and a continued quest for great tasting, good-for-you food, we are seeing an increased demand for figs – and California fig farmers are delighted to provide."
With fruit now available in stores, California fig farmers offer the following tips as a reminder when purchasing figs, including:
- Look for the softest figs; a soft texture indicates the fruit is ready to consume immediately.
- Don't be concerned about small slits or tears in the skin as long as the fig has a fresh aroma.
- Fresh figs are delicate. Handle gently.
- Keep figs in the refrigerator for as long as five to seven days.
- Too many to eat right away? Just rinse and freeze. Simply arrange in a single layer on a pan and put in the freezer. Transfer frozen figs to a sealed plastic bag, where they can be kept in the freezer for up to six months.
- Avoid figs with a fermentation odor; it indicates that the fruit is overripe.
About California Figs
Through the ages, figs have been recognized as a powerhouse of nutrition. In 2900 BC, early Sumerians documented the "medicinal" uses of figs. Today, we know that figs are an excellent source of dietary fiber. They are also rich in antioxidants and are fat-, cholesterol-, and sodium-free. Just three to five figs – fresh or dried – provide five grams of fiber and count as one serving of fruit, adds Stockli.
California produces multiple varieties of the luscious fig. This summer, Mission and Brown Turkey Figs, with their rich robust flavor, were first to market and will be available until late fall. Amber-colored, delicate, and light flavored Kadota Figs will be abundant through October, while fresh Calimyrnas, known for their pale yellow skin and nutty, buttery sweet flavor, will be available from July through September.
"California's fertile soils and temperate climate are ideal for producing consistently high-quality fresh figs," said Stockli. "Even with the late rains, summer and fall are peak seasons for the delicacy, so don't let this fig season come and go without enjoying this guiltless indulgence."
Stockli adds that everything except the stem is edible, and figs can be enjoyed by themselves or combined with other favorite summertime foods. Fresh, flavorful California figs require no cooking; however, figs can bring out the chef in almost anyone.
Add these simple recipes to your summer repertoire, and for more information, recipes and serving tips, visit: www.calfreshfigs.com.
Recipes courtesy of the California Fig Advisory Board/California Fresh Fig Growers Association.
GORGONZOLA STUFFED FIGS WITH PROSCIUTTO
1 pound prosciutto, sliced very thin
16 fresh California figs, stems removed
3 tablespoons soft Gorgonzola cheese
1/2 cup seedless raspberry jam, melted
1/2 cup white balsamic vinegar
Fresh thyme leaves, chopped
Divide prosciutto into 16 strips, each about 1/2-inch wide by 6 inches long; set aside.
Starting at stem end, cut figs in half lengthwise, leaving blossom end intact. Press 1/2 teaspoon cheese in center of each and press back together. Wrap each fig with a strip of prosciutto and thread onto wooden skewers. Grill over high heat, 5 minutes, turning frequently, until lightly charred on all sides. Remove from grill to serving plates. Combine jam and vinegar: mix well and drizzle over figs. Sprinkle with thyme. Serve warm. Serves 8.
Nutrition facts per serving: Calories 250 (15% from fat); Total Fat 4.5g (sat 1.5g, mono 1.5g, poly 0.5g, trans 0g); Cholesterol 35mg; Protein 16g; Carbohydrate 38g; Fiber 3g; Iron 1mg; Sodium 800mg; Calcium 59mg; Vitamin A 172 IU; Vitamin C 2mg; Daily Values: Vit. A 4%; Vit. C 4%; Calcium 8%; Iron 6%.
CHOCOLATE COVERED FIGS
4 whole California fresh figs with stems
Fine sea salt, as needed
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
Wash and dry figs. Dust lightly with salt; set aside. Measure chocolate chips into microwavable bowl. Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds; stir, Microwave on HIGH for 30 seconds more and stir again until chocolate is completely melted. Holding fig by stem, dip in melted chocolate and set on wax paper-lined tray. Let stand until chocolate is set.
Nutrition Facts Per Serving (1 fig): Calories 250 (41% from fat); Total Fat 13g (sat 8g, mono 4g, poly 0g, trans 0g); Cholesterol 0mg; Protein 2g; Carbohydrate 39g (Dietary Fiber 5g, Sugars 34g); Iron 1.5mg; Sodium 5mg; Calcium 36mg; Potassium 302mg. Daily Values: Vit. A 2%; Vit. C 2%; Calcium 4%; Iron 8%.
About the California Fig Advisory Board and the California Fresh Fig Growers Association
The California Fig Advisory Board and California Fresh Fig Growers Association promote awareness and the use of California-produced dried and fresh figs domestically and internationally. California fig growers, processors and marketers fund the activities of the industry.
SOURCE California Fig Advisory Board/California Fresh Fig Growers Association