We are really very lucky to have a large garden right in the centre of Morecambe.
About 10 years ago I bought a tiny little fig tree, I can’t remember where but I’d always wanted one, I don’t think it’s a fancy variety just the ‘Brown Turkey’. Figs like to have their roots restricted and I had a little sunny bed just perfect for it.
The key to the harvest is the number of baby figs forming in the Autumn, they become the following years harvest. In a warmer climate, they will produce two crops but here in the North of England we only get one.
This year, we have had a spectacular crop and the tree is going to have to have a bit of a chop back after the last lot of fruit are removed as it’s blocking a path.
So far, I must have harvested well over 5kg of figs from this one tree, they are best harvested really ripe just before they split open. They are delicious fresh with yoghurt and honey and a sprinkling of flaked toasted almonds. Or if you are Vegan, coconut milk yoghurt and agave syrup.
However, even I can’t eat 5kg of fresh figs and they really don’t keep, so I’ve been looking for ways to preserve them.
Previously, I’ve made Fig and Ginger Jam but I’ve still got a couple of jars left. The recipe was originally from the BBC recipe archive and has now been taken down, although this one is very similar.
This year, I’ve decided to experiment a little, firstly I wanted to try drying some figs for storage.
I love my dehydrator, I’ve had a couple over the years, the cheap ones you can get off Amazon etc. but I’ve always lusted after an Excalibur although they are a little out of my budget. I found and bought a replica from eBay that was a similar style, with the fan at the back of the unit rather than underneath.
The dehydrated figs didn’t come out quite as I expected them to, I was expecting them to be more brown, wrinkled and leathery like the dried figs you buy whereas they are quite crispy. Definitely lessons learnt, the riper ones came out best. I let them cool and then stored them in glass jars. I’ll probably use them up in fig rolls as the whole family loves those.
Then as it was the launch of Zero Carbon Lancaster and Morecambe on 4th September, I offered to make a dessert. The call out was that it should be seasonal and preferably Vegan and Gluten Free. Obviously having quite a few figs, I wanted to use them. I had a bit of a hunt and came across a Fig Upside Down Cake which was both Gluten-Free and Vegan. Unfortunately, as I had to transport it to Halton Mill I left it upside down and then didn’t get chance to grab a photo of it before it disappeared off the plate. I managed to grab a tiny sliver of it and safe to say it is definitely one I would make again. It was delicious.
Finally having been given the idea by a friend, I’ve started off some Fig Liqueur. This was ridiculously simple to do. All I had to do was wash the figs, chop them up, shove them in a jar and cover them in cheap vodka. I’ve seen a number of different ideas with them so I also shoved in half a cinnamon stick. You leave it for a couple of weeks, and then strain the liqueur off the figs and add some sugar syrup to taste. I’ve been advised it can take a while for it to mature but when it does it’s delicious.
I’m not sure how many more ripe figs I’ll get off the tree this year, the weather is rapidly changing, I want to have a go at bottling some, making a Fig Balsamic Reduction and maybe a Fig and Apple fruit leather if I have enough but it appears that the fig tree is pretty versatile and you can even use the ones that are large enough to be this years crop but haven’t fully ripened in unripe Fig Jam. Those little glowing balls of green look quite amazing and no doubt will be delicious.
It appears there are far more ways to use figs than I dreamed of and all can be stored to be eaten later. I’ve not even got on to things like chutneys or the countless ways you can serve them from fresh.