It’s a Fig Deal: Late-Summer Gems from Sunny Californiabianca
We’re quickly moving past the peak of summer and its plentiful harvests, but don’t fret, that just leaves room for more gorgeous end-of-season crops. Figs, for instance, are among the sweetest and most popular harbingers of late summer.
These teardrop-shaped fruits with a long and rich history that goes back to ancient Mesopotamia are now a mainstay in American agriculture, thriving under the warm California sun.
What are figs?
Although they’re very often dubbed a fruit, figs are actually groups of small flowers (called a syconium) growing inside an edible shell. The entire shell and its contents are edible. Figs come in a range of colors – red, green, white and dark purple – depending on the variety.
Figs thrive in hot and dry climates, which is why most of the world’s production has spread from the Middle East and is now centered on Greece, Turkey, Spain, Portugal and sunny coast of California in the United States.
According to California Figs, the area around the cities of cities of Madera, Fresno, and Merced “is rich with full sunlight, warm temperatures, and well-draining soil; everything figs need to thrive, producing the sweetest, plumpest fruit imaginable.”
What do figs taste like?
One reason why fresh figs are an all-time favorite among chefs and consumers alike is their intense, honey-sweet flavor. They are so sweet that, before sugar became widely known and utilized, they used to serve as sweeteners for desserts.
When are figs in season?
Dried or frozen figs are available all year long, however fresh figs are only in season in the U.S. for short periods of time during mid- and late-summer, respectively. The first harvest of the year, which delivers the Breba crop – happens around mid-summer (usually June). The main crop emerges in late summer (August) and lasts all the way into the fall.
Which types of figs are grown locally in California?
The California Fresh Fig Growers Association distinguishes among 5 different varieties of fresh figs that emerge during summer harvests:
- Tiger – Fruity flavor with yellow-green striped shell; available from July to October
- Sierra – Fresh flavor and light green shell; available from June to October
- Kadota – Mild flavor and bright green shell; available from June to October
- Mission – Earthy flavor and deep purple / black shell; available from May to November
- Brown Turkey – Strong flavor and and light purple shell; available from May to November
What to cook with figs?
Figs are delicious when consumed raw, but they’re also exceptionally versatile when it comes to cooking applications. Figs and desserts are a match made in heaven, so naturally, they can be added to a variety of cakes and tarts for a dash of sweet freshness. They can be made into syrups and jams, served as toppings for ice creams and salads, or used as sugar substitutes.
Where can I find fresh wholesale figs for my restaurant?
If you’re all set on how to cook and serve figs in your restaurant, all that’s left is to source them from a reliable food supplier that guarantees top quality and freshness. Luckily, Riviera Produce is here to help.
We carry a large variety of peak-season organic produce, including the popular California-grown Black Mission figs. Just reach out to us and we’ll provide wholesale fresh figs for all cooking needs!