Figs are little, syrupy sweet bundles of flavor. Figs can be eaten fresh or dried and incorporated in recipes to help add texture, another level of flavor, and sweetness. Chances are you have tried figs before in the little popular rolled cookies filled with fig paste called Fig Newtons.
Since figs are not the most common fruit in the American produce aisle, learn more about how to eat fresh figs, cook with them, some tips when using dried figs, and how to measure them out.
How to Eat Figs
Fresh figs come in many varieties and can be eaten whole. Figs pair well with rich flavors.
You can combine figs with salty flavors, like prosciutto, Parma ham, and cheese. Figs go well with dozens of other types of foods, like creamy rich foods like mascarpone and creme fraiche; aromatics and spices like garlic, olives, and cinnamon; as well as citrus fruits, full-flavored vinegars, and fortified wines like sherry and port.
How to Cook with Figs
Figs can be used in many ways. You can use figs as a meat tenderizer. You can use figs as a flavor enhancer. Figs work well in baked goods and can be used as a substitute for fat in baking.
Figs produce protein-digesting enzymes that break down muscle and connective tissue in meat, making them an excellent meat tenderizing option.
Figs naturally help hold in moisture in baked goods, keeping them fresher. And, fig puree can be used as a healthier replacement for fat in baked goods.
Tips When Using Dried Figs
High in sugar, these little fruits often stick together. When chopping dried figs by hand with a knife or kitchen shears, occasionally dip the cutting implement into warm water to prevent sticking. And, if you want to separate dried figs that are stuck together, put them in the microwave for 10 to 15 seconds.
If you are chopping figs in a food processor, add some of the sugar called for in the recipe over the fruits. The coarse sugar granules can help prevent the figs from sticking or clumping.
Dried figs can also be reconstituted if they seem too hard or too dry. You can soak, steam, or poach them to restore moisture.
How to Measure Out Figs
Sometimes recipes call for fresh figs. Other times, you may see a recipe calling for dried figs. Sometimes it calls for a half-pound of figs, a cup's worth or figs that are big or small. This chart will help you figure out the equivalents of figs in all its forms: fresh, dried, by size, by the pound, by the cup, chopped, and canned.
|Figs by the Pound||Other Equivalents|
|Fresh figs, pound||9 medium|
|Fresh figs, pound||12 small|
|Fresh figs, pound||2 1/2 cups, chopped|
|Canned figs, 16 ounces (1 pound)||12 to 16 whole figs|
|Dried figs, pound||44 whole figs|
|Dried figs, pound||3 cups, chopped|
More About Figs
The popular fig cookbook, "Fig Heaven," is a great resource with 70 recipes for those with a new-found appreciation for the amazing little fruit.