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AliveJune2016

For those who are passionate about perfectly ripened, locallygrown fruit, the late- spring and early-summer farmers’ market is filled with sweet surprises. Plump, juicy berries are now joined by long-awaited treasures like cherries, apricots, and figs—arguably the most voluptuous fruit of all. This preliminary fig season is far too brief for many of us. So, after eating my fill of figs out-of-hand, in salads, tarts, pizza, or simply enrobed in prosciutto, I longed to capture their unique flavor to carry me through leaner times. Rather than immersing myself in the traditional canning process, I now turn to this quick and easy recipe. The following small-batch condiment can last for weeks—even months—in the refrigerator, providing that I don’t sneak a spoonful or two every time I wander through the kitchen. It is filled with figgy goodness! And, the addition of a whole lemon—skin, pith, and all— makes this recipe pleasantly piquant, and the walnuts add a touch of crunch. Although I most frequently enjoy fig conserve spooned onto a warm, buttery scone or toasted English muffin, there are plenty of other uses for this recipe: —Slather your favorite soft cheese (goat, brie, or blue) over crostini, or spoon it onto a leaf of Belgian endive; then top with a dab of fig conserve and a few tiny arugula leaves, or chopped fresh thyme or rosemary. —Spread fig conserve over a wheel—or even a wedge—of ripe brie and top with more toasted walnuts. —Serve a small bowl of fig conserve with cheese or charcuterie platters. —Serve fig conserve as a condiment alongside roast pork or chops. When the main course is baked ham, serve fig conserve with warm buttermilk biscuits. —Squeeze fresh lemon juice over a plain grilled chicken breast, and serve a spoonful of fig conserve on the side. —Dollop fig conserve over a scoop of vanilla ice cream; then drizzle with a bit of honey and top with finely chopped crystallized ginger or candied lemon zest. —Smear wheat meal digestive biscuits or gingersnaps with mascarpone or cream cheese, and top with a dab of fig conserve. —Pack fig conserve into a decorative jar, tie with a raffia bow, and present to your host as a gift. A L I V E 28 E A S T B A Y j u n e 2 0 1 6 Figalicious Facts —The fig is one of the oldest cultivated fruits. Since it is nutritious and easily preserved by drying, it became a staple of people in southern Europe and Arabia. —According to the bible, figs grew in the Garden of Eden, for it was fig leaves that Adam and Eve reportedly used to cover their naked- ness after eating the forbidden fruit. —In 1769 Father Junipero Serra planted California’s first figs in the San Diego area. California now produces 95% of the U.S. fig crop and is the third largest producer in the world, trailing closely behind Turkey and Greece. —Because ripe figs are fragile and do not travel well, each year around 30 million pounds of the California crop are transformed into dried figs. —Figs are in season twice each year: first in June through July; and again in August through October or November. —Figs must remain on the tree until fully ripe, as they do not ripen once they have been picked. For this reason, buy only figs that are very soft and ready to eat. Give a Fig! MARKET FRESH I PEGGY DOHERTY FALLON


AliveJune2016
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