Soft and plump — a good fresh ripe fig is hard to find. With only a short growing season, you may discover them now (high summer) at farm markets or, if you are lucky, on a neighbor’s backyard tree. Unfortunately, their color gives no reliable clues to their ripeness or taste: blackish purple (Black Mission); yellow-gold (Calimyrna); green (Kadota); copper (Brown Turkey) are the most popular varieties. You just have to hope.
If you do find perfection (as in this photograph by Flickr photographer red betty black):
— Leave them alone. Show off their beauty by serving several on a platter at the end of a meal alongside a chalky goat cheese.
— Freeze them on small wooden skewers for a simple summertime dessert.
— Cut each fruit open (yet not all the way through), fill with mascarpone, and drizzle with warm honey.
— Serve a rustic salad of grilled figs and pancetta (adapted from The Santa Monica Farmers’ Market Cookbook this month’s cookbook pick.
Recipe: Grilled Fig & Pancetta Salad