Monday, September 7, 2009

Figs (İncir)

For the longest time, I have been thinking about introducing various fruits that grow in Turkey in my blog. Procrastination can no longer continue and I am going to start with one of my favorite fruits, figs.

Figs come in variety of skin colors such as green, yellow, brown or red. The inner part of the fruit is full of tiny seeds that are sitting in a pink or red flesh. The size of this fruit can also vary. I have seen figs that are as small as a small apricot and as big as a peach.

Figs grow all over the Mediterranean region. Culinary usage of figs is pretty common in some Mediterranean countries. The fruit are hard with a dark green skin color when they are immature and become soft when they are harvested around late July, August and early September. Ripe figs are soft when touched, although when they are extremely ripe, their skin will break just with a single touch due to their fragility. Select figs that are soft, but not mushy. The firm ones are usually not ripe, hence will not be sweet.

Picking fruit from the fig tree needs caution as the milky white substance that is stored inside the leaves or the stem of the fig, can irritate and itch the skin. Another caveat is that fig trees can attract snakes, which actually prevents me from going to a fig farm and pick figs! I am not sure if this is a myth or not, but I have heard about it since I was little.

My grandparents used to have a few trees of figs one of which gave unusually large figs with a firm and dark green skin. The inside of the fruit had a vivid red color and a very sweet flavor. My recollection of the figs picked from my grandparents’ tree is still so alive. Albeit, I have no recollection of any snakes around the tree! My father also has a couple fig trees in his garden. Every year, he advises me to come home during the fig season (sometimes around the pomegranate and persimmon seasons, since he has these fruit trees too), but I usually end up going too early to pick any ripe figs or persimmons or pomegranates. I think I only made it home once during the fig season.

I have lived in quite a few states in the U.S. and I do not recall seeing figs anywhere until I moved to Texas. I only started to see figs in the past few years, in my grocery store which carries specialty foods. Not only do they sell figs, they sell brown Turkish figs. Hence, we regularly eat fresh Turkish figs during the summer for the past few years. Personally, I prefer them, plain, as a fruit. I have never attempted to cook with figs or eat them with honey. If the fruit is ripe, they are as sweet as honey, so I do not understand the addition of honey. I would however, like to try cooking with figs sometime.

Figs can also be dried. Most grocery stores in the U.S. carry dried figs. Dried Turkish figs are very popular and I have run into them often in the U.S. If I am not wrong, I think Turkey is the biggest producer and exporter of dried figs. A post on dried figs will be prepared sometime in the future.


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14 comments:

5 Star Foodie said...

Great info on figs! Thanks so much for sharing!

Soma said...

We love figs. We would get a lot of dried versions back in india. We would not get this fruit version fresh very often. But we did have one kind which is not so sweet & is cooked.. like in a meal not dessert.

u r right about seeing a lot of fig trees in texas. we are planning to plant one in our backyard. our friend has it & it is nothing like breaking off fresh figs & eating:-)

My Turkish Kitchen said...

Incir en sevdigim ve burada en ozledigim meyve.Ne de guzel cikmislar oyle.
Iffet

Cinnamon Girl aka Reeni♥ said...

I love figs! So sweet and delicious. One of nature's most perfect fruit!

Elra said...

Love fig very much. I am lucky to have the tree in my backyard.

Mediterranean kiwi said...

we have two fig trees in our fields - love that fruit. do you also have 'prickly' figs (cactus fruit)? love those too!

lisaiscooking said...

I love figs fresh, dried, out of hand, and included in dishes. When fresh figs are perfectly ripe, there's no better fruit!

Baron's Life said...

I've always loved figs and always had them here in BC...imported of course...but they are one of my favorite fruits and will always continue to be so
Thanks for sharing

kahliyalogue said...

Indeed figs are such a delicacy!I adore figs,and I agree there is really no need to do too much to them as they are wonderful as is!
Thank you for enlightening us a bit more about them.As for the dried figs,we also have a lot imported here from Turkey! :)Mia

Selba said...

I've never eaten fresh figs! I've been always wondering how it tasted and been looking for it.

Well, actually I had once the dried figs on my dessert in Turkey but I bet it doesn't taste the same as the fresh ones.

zerrin said...

Nihal, incir benim en sevdiğim meyve. Kurusu ya da tazesi hiç farketmez. Tatlı iştahımı gideren tek meyve diyebilirim. Kıskandırmak gibi olmasın ama şu an Türkiye'de olduğum için çok şanslı olduğumu hissettim. Yaz bitmesine rağmen şu sıralar bile pazarda incir bulmak mümkün. Kuru incirle ilgili yazını da merakla bekleyeceğim.

Yasmeen said...

I adore figs.I'm enjoying a pack of delectable dried figs imported from greece :)

farida said...

I love figs, too. We, in Azerbaijan love to eat it as it is, skin and all, or make jam with it. It is not my favorite fruit of all (nothing can beat pomegranates for me:)), but I like to sample it when it's in season. Sadly, figs in California do not taste as sweet as ones grown in Azerbaijan.

kostas said...

Love figs.