Figs like heat, being native to the warmer areas of western Asia, but can be grown in the cool summer climate of the Pacific Northwest with some extra thought and effort in selecting and siting the trees.
Getting Off to a Good Start
Figs need warmth, sun and not much else. The best way satisfy them is to plant against a south-facing wall or fence where the reflected heat will ripen the fruit. These are large trees, up to 30 feet high, so be sure to give them plenty of room. If you're growing them for the large, attractive leaves rather than the fruit, you can get away with an east- or west-facing location or one that is partially shaded.
Choose your variety carefully, looking for those that are adapted to cool areas. "Desert King" is one possibility, but there are others available from local nurseries.
Plant in ordinary garden soil--whatever you have in your yard. Figs aren't fussy about soil conditions and it's best not to add extra organic matter before you plant.
Water well after planting and throughout the first year. Figs need only moderate amounts of water, but you need to give them a chance to form a good root system before letting them dry out.
Fertilize with low nitrogen fertilizer such as a 0-10-10 mix once a year. Nitrogen promotes leafy growth at the expense of fruit.
The easiest and most popular method of preparing California figs is by stewing -- and there are many delightful variations on this delicious theme. Rinse and drain figs, cover generously with water, cover the pan, and cook slowly over low heat for 35 minutes. Add sugar if you wish after cooking.
Add a half-slice of orange for every six figs. Simmer five minutes more. Serve room warm.
Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice for every four or five figs, with a piece of lemon rind. Simmer five minutes more. Serve either warm or chilled.
Add 1 teaspoon California sherry for every six figs, after figs are thoroughly cooked. Chill before serving.
Add either a piece of gingerroot or stick of cinnamon to cook slowly with figs.
Stewed figs will keep very well in the refrigerator for use at breakfast, as a meal-starter, or as a healthful and delicious dessert.
Source: 48 Family Favorites with California Figs Reprinted with the permission of The California Fig Advisory Board Electronic format courtesy of Karen Mintzias
Place the fresh figs into the colander and run cool water over them. Rub the figs briskly with your hands to wash them.
Set the figs on the cutting board. Cut the stems from the tops of the figs by slicing straight across the tops with the paring knife.
Remove the peels with the paring knife, if you desire, removing as little fig pulp as possible as you remove the skin.
Slice the figs in half from top to bottom. Place the halved figs onto the cutting board with the flat side down and slice into half-inch-wide slices. Store figs covered in the refrigerator until serving time, making sure to eat them as soon as possible, whether in a fruit salad or alone.
Store leftover whole fresh figs in the refrigerator for up to three days. Line a shallow container with paper towel and place the figs on the paper towel. Cover the container with plastic wrap.
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