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A festival of figs

(article, Caroline Cummins)

The pickup: Bushels and bushels of figs, from the fig tree (fig variety unknown) that grows outside my house. Actually, most of them are eaten by birds, which is just fine since there's no way I can pick them all.

[%image feed-image float=left width=300 credit="Photo © Culinate" caption="Fabulous figs."]

The results: In previous years, I ate mountains of fresh figs out of hand, mixed with yogurt and granola, or wrapped in ham or cheese. I also made jam, which (perhaps due to the low acidity of figs) never seemed to have much pep. 

Then I adapted a recipe for plum chutney that I found at the back of an issue of Saveur magazine; the vinegar, mustard, and chile flakes in the fig chutney I cooked down in my stovetop cauldron lent a tart and spicy balance to the mellow sweetness of the figs. It's good on, say, a turkey sandwich, and smooshy-perfect on a grilled sandwich of cheddar and, hopefully, a few leaves of mâche. 

But we're still eating fig chutney from last year, so last weekend my household plumped for a food dehydrator. Sure, we like dried fruit just fine, but the Big Plan is to make our own fig paste and, eventually, our own version of Fig Newtons. So far, the machine seems to work — but will we want to eat pounds and pounds of dried figs in the cold months to come?


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