Figs glorious figs

Brown Turkey Figs

Not the dried leathery things that you find yourself peeling out of  packets at Christmas but freshly picked ripe Brown Turkey figs, one of the juiciest, sweetest most fragrant fruits you’ll ever taste. Brown Turkey a large dark skinned variety with deep red inner flesh is probably the most common of the two types that are successfully grown here in the UK, the other being White Marseilles a pale green skinned variety with pale cream flesh. The recent mix of heavy showers and patches of brilliant sunshine has ripened a bumper crop of fruit.

There is one of each variety in the garden, the White Marseilles a cutting, of a cutting, of a cutting of a tree I was given 30 years ago, both are covered with ripening fruits, but for me the Brown Turkey has the edge on flavour and sweetness. They say the early bird catches the worm, but in this case – its the fig, watch out because black birds love them along with just about every other kind of flying insect in the garden, they will all do their best to beat you to this delicate sweet bonanza.

Eat them just as they are, fresh from the tree, their great served with cheese or cold meat, especially lamb, but for me, best of all, is to poach them in red wine and sugar.

You’ll need a large skillet with a lid, trim the stalks off, stand them up and pack them in neatly, pour in a mixture of red wine and water about 3 to 1, sprinkle in about 150g of caster or preserving sugar, I like to add a couple of table spoons of brown sugar to deepen the flavour. The fluid should be about a third of the way up the figs, bring to the boil then place the lid on and simmer for about 20 mins.

Taste, depending on your level of sweet tooth, add more sugar if required, simmer for a few more minutes until sugar has dissolved, allow to cool and serve with double cream or a good quality vanilla ice cream. Use white or Rose wine with White Marseilles – a glorious seasonal treat to look forward to every year.

White Marseilles Figs

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