I DO Give a Fig!
I love figs. Dried figs are a main ingredient in one of my favorite Christmas cookie recipes, but I also love them fresh, warmed with a little goat’s cheese. I cut up dried figs and put them in my oatmeal in the morning. But my absolute favorite way to eat them is to bite into one that was picked only moments before.
Fresh figs have a very short shelf life and they don’t ship well. That’s why you rarely see them in a grocery store. Years ago I had a large Turkish Fig plant, but it had to be sacrificed when I moved one time. I’ve wanted another one for some time and I when I saw a ‘Chicago Hardy’ fig at Logee’s a couple years ago, I bought it and planted it in the back yard. Hardy to Zone 5, it will have no problem living through our zone 7 winters. I didn’t expect it to mature that first year, and I was right. It grew lots of foliage and was very healthy though, and I expected great things from it the following year. I watched as it broke dormancy and grew lots and lots of large foliage, and in August, the figs began to form. But they were small, and they never matured. At the advice of another gardener, we cut it back heavily that fall and hoped for a harvest the following year (this year.)
The figs began to form in July, and just sat there. We watered faithfully and tip-pinched the sprawling branches in August, and the baby figs still did nothing. This time there were about 30 of them.
Fast forward to October and the figs have expanded in size, and they are finally ripening! Shorter days, cold nights and not much rain seem to be the perfect combination to ripen this particular variety. And they are very delicious.