Mary Beth Johnson is a writer based in Atlanta, GA. She is currently writing her first book in between school drop off and laundry piles. She can be found every day on Instagram and at the local coffee shop.
Contributor post by Sweet Marybeth!
Fig trees have been highly sought after since ancient times for their hearty root system and sweet fruit. These high producing trees naturally grow in sunny, dry climates, but have been naturalized into many parts of the United States. Chances are, you’re reading this because you’ve found a tree in your backyard and are wondering how to use up all of those fresh figs. So, let’s get the down low on these unique plants and how to use them.
There are over 700 varieties of fig trees, but some of the most common are: O’Rourk, Papa John, Green Ischia, Alma, LSU Purple, Brown Turkey, Marseilles, Italian Black, Black Mission, and Celeste. Fig trees are native to Middle Eastern and Mediterranean climates, but you can find them in just about every part of the states. The variety, color, flavor, and harvest time of each fig tree will depend on what region you live in.
First, identify what type of fig tree you have. Look at the size, color, and region you’re harvesting from. Figs range in color from green to light pink to almost black and will not ripen further once picked, so be sure to harvest at their peak. Generally, harvest times range from May-November, but every variety is different. Some figs, such as the Black Mission fig, begin to crackle and split when ready to be picked, while others remain green.
Before cooking or preserving your figs, wash them thoroughly, then cut off the stems. Be warned: fresh figs do not keep for long. I left mine out at room temperature and they were starting to go bad by day 2. I recommend washing them immediately, then storing in the refrigerator. They should last in the cooler temps for 5-7 days.
If you have a fig tree you’re probably up to your ears with the produce, wondering how to use up all of those fresh figs. Below you’ll find a list that includes everything from freezing, to preserving, to baking.
I put together several of my favorite recipes to create a no-bake, lemon, cream cheese fig tart (listed below) with homemade graham cracker crust. The textures and flavors worked so well together. Put it in your arsenal of fig recipes!
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.