Photograph from iStockphoto.com
In August, pint baskets full of figs line tables at farmers markets throughout the metro area. Purplish Celeste (the earliest arrivals), Brown Turkey, and bright green Kadota are the most common, but Mission (often sold dried in grocery stores) and a few other varieties of figs grow in the Georgia piedmont as well.
Most local figs don’t come from orchards. They are harvested from an overgrown tree or two, testing the fence rails in the corner of a yard or hiding a spigot on the side of a house. The fruit ripens over a quick few weeks; no one can eat it all. Farming families preserve and freeze as much as they can consume or give away in a year, and the rest is sent off to market with the season’s peppers and okra. Tim Stewart of Rockin’ S Farms, near Canton, recalls planting the first of their five fig trees with his father about forty years ago. He says at this time of year each tree yields up to fifteen pounds of fruit per day.
What to do with the annual abundance? Slice and arrange them, open-faced, in a gorgeous tart. Cut them into wedges and toss in a salad. Or halve them, top with a spoonful of soft cheese (such as Decimal Place Farm’s lavender and fennel chevre, sold Sundays at Grant Park Farmers Market, among others), then drizzle with honey. Grill the figs first, if you like. Or just eat them straight from the bag on your way home. Find Rockin’ S figs, fresh and preserved, at Woodstock Farmers Market or the on-farm stand at 465 Claude Scott Drive, Canton.
This article originally appeared in our August 2013 issue.