The other day, when Betty and I were coming back from the dog park, we stopped at a little fruit stand, thinking we might find something freshly picked and irresistible. And indeed, I spied a little pint container of bright green figs that would absolutely have to go home with me. Reluctantly, I parted with five dollars because I really wanted to sink my teeth into one of those delectable fruits. When I eat a fig, memories of my earliest childhood in the south of France seem to erase the present and evoke this distant past. I can almost smell the Mediterranean breezes mingled with the scent of rosemary and lavender. Yet, when I try to share my passion for this somewhat strange fruit, it seems that very few people I know have even tasted a fresh fig. I asked the girl who was tending the fruit stand if she had tasted one. She shook her head as if to say, “it’s really too weird. Fig Newtons I understand, but this?...”
My son Mark has a fig tree at his new house. By the time we picked the figs, they were oozing with sweet juice and were falling from the tree in ripened perfection. I tried to get everyone to taste one and I think only Dawn was excited about this very different fruit. And of course, she is as passionate about food in all its forms as I am.
So here I am with a little basket of figs. I could use them in all kinds of different ways. Sliced in half they would be great on the grill. They could be roasted with a pork tenderloin, mixed with rosemary and garlic. They could be great with a little goat cheese on a crostini. Finally, I decided to make a confit with them, to be spread on toast, or spooned onto a scoop of Greek yogurt, or served with a good cheddar cheese on a cracker.
I fussed and fiddled with the ingredients until it tasted right to me and now I have three little jars to give as gifts as an introduction to the glorious fig.
1 pint fresh green figs (I suppose the dark figs could be substituted but I like the mildness of the green ones)
¾ cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely sliced lemon, including rind (about ¼ lemon)
1 ½ tablespoons crystallized ginger, sliced fine
½ cup orange marmalade (I make my own which is quite tart)
Combine all ingredients and simmer on medium to low heat for about ½ hour. Spoon into prepared, sterilized jars and seal. Boil in water bath for ten minutes. Makes about 1 ½ pints.