Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Peak Pick — Figs

By James Parker, September 24, 2008  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by James Parker
There are lots of things to love about figs. Historically, the fig is one of the oldest domesticated fruits on record with references dating back literally thousands of years. The tree itself is a robust, self-sufficient organism — often living for more than 100 years (more than three times the average life of other fruit bearing trees). Figs grow all over the world and come in an astonishing range of varieties and characteristics. But the one thing all figs share is their sweetness — at full ripeness they can concentrate more sugars than any tree fruit. Figs are also one of only a few tree fruits that have two distinct parts to their harvest season. The first harvest (or “Breba” fruit) comes from the branches the tree produced the previous year. In the U.S. this Breba fruit is generally available in late May through mid-June. The second harvest and main crop on the tree’s new branches grows all summer and generally is ready to harvest at the end of August through October. For those of us in the produce trade, the Breba fruit is a tantalizing (sometimes maddening) preview of the main season yet to come. The most common commercially produced fig is the Black Mission — a fig with a purple/black exterior color and a pink/brown interior. The Black Mission is extremely prolific and tends to travel well so it is likely the fig you will see at your local store. Another common but less available variety is the Brown Turkey which tends to be larger and more fragile than the Black Mission. There are several green skinned varieties, including Kadota and Adriatic. The Adriatic has a very short season and is very fragile, but the bright red interior and strawberry jam-like flavor make them well worth the trouble. Selecting figs is a lot like choosing the right package of berries. Since they are so fragile, figs are generally packed in containers. If this is the case, you should examine them from all angles (particularly the bottom) to make sure there are no split or crushed figs inside. Once you get them home you should remove figs from their container and inspect them for damage and then store them in your refrigerator until you are ready to eat them. You should never keep fresh figs for more than a week — I always eat my softest figs first. Luckily, figs start becoming widely available just when berries and soft fruits like peaches start to wane. Figs make a great breakfast fruit and are excellent paired with cheeses as an appetizer. They also make a refreshing addition to late summer/ fall salads with nuts, apples, and blue cheese. If I have some figs when I’m grilling I remove the stem and stuff them with some gorgonzola and grill them over indirect heat — this removes a lot of the moisture in the fig, caramelizes the sugars and really brings out the flavor. Grilled figs are also wonderful for dessert topped with vanilla ice cream. There are many delicious dishes you can make with dried figs as well, but I encourage you to indulge in some fresh figs during this short harvest season. Enjoy!
Category: Food & Recipes




kasakf says ...
anyone have a good recepe for something savory with Figs? i had the chance to go up to Maywood Farms a few years back and enjoyed grilled adriatic figs wrapped with some pancetta...YUM
10/10/2008 11:04:30 AM CDT
parkerj says ...
Hey Becca, It gets more difficult to maintain supply the later into Oct we get but don't be discouraged if you come up empty once. they may be there next time. We generally see them into November but I know they are easier to get here on the west coast. Love your Grandfather story Susie- reminded me that I had a great aunt I used to visit every summer as a kid that had three huge fig trees in the her back yard. she would send us home with a jar or two of fig preserves everytime we visited. When she passed away I remember watching our stockpile of preserves dwindle to nothing - I wish I had paid attention to how she did it because I've never had fig preserves as good as her's. Must have been that extra helping of love she put into them
10/10/2008 11:49:48 AM CDT
kasakf says ...
Hey Becca, if you cant find the Figs at your local Whole Foods Market, please ask for a special order, there may still be some available.
10/10/2008 10:58:25 AM CDT
susie says ...
I've been hooked on figs since I was a child. Grandfather used to tell us how as a child in Italy, figs were their candy. They couldn't wait for those trees to bloom. Now, I can't either. Delicious!
10/08/2008 6:48:50 AM CDT
Deanna says ...
Recently, I tried halving fresh figs, brushing them with blood orange infused olive oil, grilling them and then topping them with Crème fraîche and honey. Fantastic! (And easy too.)
10/04/2008 8:57:40 PM CDT
becca says ...
Are fresh figs still available? I live in CT and looked for them in my local Whole Foods store today and came up emptyhanded
10/07/2008 10:05:28 PM CDT
saucymomma says ...
Figs are simply the best early fall treat. And that means its time to make a delicious fig & prosciutto pizza inspired by the Todd English original I first tried years ago in Boston. And I can't wait to get my hands on David Tanis' Platter of Figs cookbook that just hit the shelves. Thank you for celebrating all things figs!
09/27/2008 8:10:17 PM CDT
JoEllen says ...
Fresh figs with ricotta cheese and honey-for breakfast or dessert!!
09/26/2008 4:39:15 AM CDT
Gila says ...
I'm a student in Israel for the year, and figs are on my mind right now- they're one of the seven products for which Israel is famous. I was on a settlement over the weekend where I saw gorgeous fig trees, pomegranate trees, and grapevines. I can't wait to try out some fresh figs!
09/28/2008 8:02:27 AM CDT
Eduardo Topete says ...
On my way back home from school I pass by my local Whole Foods and pick up these delicious fruits. I feed them to my pet parrotlet every friday as a treat. He loves them more than I do.
10/07/2008 5:56:43 PM CDT
Ceci Hughett says ...
Two nights ago I went out to my fig tree (Brown Turkey) with a flashlight to pick the rest of the ripe figs. I was preparing to make Drunken Fig Jam *yum* and hadn't harvested enough to make the whole batch. It is delicious and for those that truely love figs, I will be giving them a special gift made with love and fresh figs!
10/02/2008 8:18:06 AM CDT
Jorie says ...
I'm on my way down the street to see if there are any fresh figs left on the tree. Then off to the store for some vanilla ice cream while the grill is heating up. Yum!
09/25/2008 9:39:06 PM CDT
Sheila says ...
Do you have dried figs until the fresh come in???
04/14/2009 8:22:16 PM CDT
hsiaw says ...
@Sheila Check in our bulk section for our dried fruit selection. We may also have packaged dried figs in some of our stores. Check w/ Guest Services for where they would be located in your local store. Good luck!
04/15/2009 2:44:57 PM CDT
Hawaii Food Tours says ...
We just got 5 pounds of fresh figs here in Honolulu for $40 from a purveyor. I cut some in half, sprinkled with sugar, and glazed the sugar with our kitchen torch. Perfection, delight, and delicious! What are you paying for figs where you are?
05/23/2009 5:43:21 AM CDT
Nicole Coleman says ...
Do the fresh commercially produced figs sold at Whole Foods involve wasps for fertilization as part of their cycle? Is there a kind of fig that does not involve wasps (or any other insect for that matter)? thanks -Nicole Coleman nicolecoleman@earthlink.net
04/07/2011 11:35:17 AM CDT
bepkom says ...
@Nicole: Please contact the producer of the figs you purchase to learn more about fertilization methods. Thanks!
04/07/2011 11:40:33 AM CDT
Rick says ...
I love figs! A couple of months ago I noticed you were selling fig trees at your Louisville KY (Shelbyville) store. I didn't buy one but I wish to now. I live 2hours west of Louisville so I don't make regular trips to your store. Question, do you still sell them? What variety were they? Are they suitable to grow in western Kentucky? Can I place an order? Looking forward to your response. Rick
09/30/2012 8:47:55 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@RICK - Our products vary between locations so I would reach out to the store in Louisville to see what they have in stock. You can call them at 502.899.5545. Good luck!
10/01/2012 10:35:52 AM CDT
A.J. says ...
Hello, do yuo sell fresh figs at your store? if so, I will be in AZ from Jan 12-26, would they be available at that time? Thanks AJ
12/02/2012 11:41:27 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@AJ - Our products vary between store locations. I would suggest that you call the store where you plan on shopping at in AZ. You can find their contact info at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/list.
12/03/2012 12:07:50 PM CST
ksal says ...
We've had a huge craving for figs stuffed with goat cheese, walnuts, and drizzled with honey. I know figs are fall fruit, but do you import any during these summer months that are fresh?
06/14/2013 11:22:19 AM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@KSAL - Check with your local store to see if they have an fresh figs in stock right now. I did find a recipe that was similar and called for dried figs so you might be able to pull it off without fresh ones: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/dried-fig-brie-and-rosemary-bites
06/14/2013 3:37:08 PM CDT