If you don’t give a fig about figs, you may not have indulged in fresh ones or gotten the fig life lesson from your mom. A perfectly ripe Black Mission is a far cry from a Fig Newton. The dark leathery skin and tender flesh surround their crunchy seeds/ for a textural trifecta unmatched in the edible world. So for a few months a year, make it your mission to find figs at the market (or, if you’re lucky, a nearby backyard). Originating in the Mediterranean, figs are one of the world’s oldest cultivated crops. In some circles they’re considered the cause of man’s fall from grace, but luckily for us figs have been redeemed. When their short season, summer into fall, is in full tilt, it would almost be a sin not to indulge in this sweet fall treat.

Common Fig Varieties

Figs come in several varieties but the most common are the deep purple Missions, or the bright katydid-colored Kadotas. They boast bright clusters of tiny pink seeds, which guarantees a dazzling dish.

Choosing and Using Figs

  • Select figs with slightly stretched skins that are beginning to break open. Such extra-ripe specimens are bursting with sweet, rich and deep flavor.
  • Figs are fragile. Handle them with the utmost care. Cradle gently as your mom did with you.
  • Most figs arrive in markets ready to eat so they won’t last long on your shelf.  Check out the Epicurious mobile app for recipe options so you can pick up needed ingredients.

Cooking with Figs

Whether it’s time for breakfast, lunch or dinner, figs fit as a seasonal stand-in when summer fruits wane. If you’re a fig newbie, these are easy recipes to get you started. Even on first date night in your kitchen, or his.

Your turn now. Go share a Fig with someone you love. Maybe even your mom.

Images: Monica Arellano-Ongpin, Heide Lang, Katie Kadue