Thursday, 30 September 2010

Our Delightful Fig Harvest

Fig harvest 

Figs..... who doesn't love a fig?  When I lived in Australia, figs were pretty expensive and difficult to come by.  So its a pleasant surprise to discover an 'ancient' old fig tree in our backyard, and what's even better, it has edible fruit on it.

The Old Fig Tree
Fig tree growing in our backyard

Our Fig Tree grows against a brick wall in a sunny position.  Over the years, it has firmly anchored itself along the wall and its branches now grow not only on our side of the wall, but also over into our neighbour's garden, which is great for fostering good neighbourly relations. Johnonymous always says that our fig tree reminds him of Angkor Wat in Cambodia where the strangler fig trees have overrun the temples and have become a part of the core structure of the buildings.  Luckily our house is at a safe distance from our tree, although our little 'summer house' (pictured above) still lies within the danger zone!

The Fruit

(L and R-top) Ripened figs ready for picking on August 18th  (R-bottom) Unripe fruit on June 3rd

The first figs started to ripen about mid August, which has brought about a lot of birds who peck at them causing the fruit to emit a scent that the wasps and flies find irresistable. Unfortunately, we don't have a large enough net to go over the tree but we don't particularly mind sharing the fruit since there is plenty to go round; afterall the birds need to eat too.

Harvesting Figs
Figs will not ripen any further once picked, so timing is everything.  With our variety, the fruit becomes a lovely brown colour and feels slightly soft when pressed.  The ripened figs will also start to droop downwards, unlike the green, unripe figs which are firm and stand perpendicular to the stem.  During the peak of the season, we were picking between five to fifteen figs every few days.  The birds and insects, on the other hand, were eating about twenty a day.

Eating our Figs during the Fig glut
Figs are packed with flavour and sweetness, and these delectable morsels can be savoured at any time of the day - fresh, grilled, baked or stewed.  We also managed to dehydrate some of the surplus into semi-dried figs.

Here are two of our favourite (and quickest) ways to serve up figs....  

Baked Figs with Gorgonzola

Serves 2
4 fresh figs
Gorgonzola Cheese

Halve the figs and place in the oven at 180 degrees celsius and bake for approximately 20 minutes.  Top each fig half with gorgonzola cheese.

Prosciutto wrapped Figs

Serves 2
4 fresh figs
Prosciutto or Serrano Ham

Halve the figs and wrap each one with a piece of prosciutto.
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