03 September 2008

Figs! Figs! Figs!

I recently just bought a house with my boyfriend. We thought it was great! All of these fruit trees in the backyard (mission fig, valencia orange, mandarin orange and apple trees). Now that we have settled in to the house, we have started working on the backyard. That means picking the fruit and trying to find things to do with all of it.

Fresh OJ, mimosas, chickens... oranges seem to be easy to deal with... but those figs.... In our backyard, lives this beautiful, yet enormous fig tree. It's one of those trees, that when barren, you can imagine would be in front of a haunted house, with all of its knotted limbs going in every which direction. Now that the tree is in season, it is full of foliage and figs. I really mean FIGS!

We gathered about 30 pounds of figs from the tree this weekend. And I am afraid that this will continue for the next few weeks.

I have never eaten figs before this week. So I was a little intimidated by all of these figs. I mean, how do you eat them? Do you just eat the inside or is the skin edible?

We decided to try and make fig jam. People kept telling us how amazing it is. So why not find out for ourselves. Spent most of Monday making fig jam. I found a great couple of websites, one with great pictures and step by step directions and the other with the basic recipe from the Ball Blue Book. The jam turned out great! We made 2 batches, using ~ 12 pounds of the figs. The jam tastes very sweet, but the flavor is not of sugary sweetness and is definitely driven by the extremely ripe figs. It also is a very pretty jam.

With the left over figs, some made it to work and the others we attempted to dry using the food dehydrator I bought many moons ago, because it was such a good deal. And have never used it, until now!

The directions say to dehydrate figs for 6 to 26 hours, until leathery. And then you need to pasteurize the figs. The figs were left in the dehydrator, almost 24 hours and turned out great. They taste like crunchy fig newtons. Yum! Now to just figure out some new recipes to try out with the dried figs and the remaining unpicked figs on the tree.... I did see a recipe for a spicy orange fig jam, now that might be worth a try. ;)