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Figs are Back!!

March 8, 2011

The Figs have finally ripened and are starting to come off the trees. Start watching out for them at our market stalls. Their appearance will increase over the coming weeks.

Katie is preparing to get back to jarring the extremely popular ‘Whole Fig Jam’ that sold out in 6 weeks last year. There will also be a few new variations of our fig jam this year.

It is also a good time to have a look at an article that was written by Katie in July last year for Gourmet Rabbit. Enjoy!

Frost and Farming Figs (as first seen in Gourmet Rabbit, July 2010)

The bold autumn colours decorating our trees just a few weeks ago have slowly floated to the ground, revealing the bare branches heralding approaching winter. The cold has well and truly set in around the town of Orange in central-western NSW. The wood for the fires has been chopped and the gas bottles for our heaters refilled. The apple harvest has come to a close and our focus is now on our winter vegetables and, though the return of warmer weather seems impossibly distant, pruning the summer fruit trees ready for another bountiful season. For me, this time of year also means time in the kitchen to make the most of the remnants of our summer harvest, creating preserves, jams, and chutneys.

While I come from a family who has lived on the land and in country towns for generations, I have led a busy metropolitan lifestyle until now. This means that I am a relative newcomer to the ritual of preserving. Not knowing where to start, I collected multitudes of cookbooks, magazines, articles, spoke with a few ladies in the local Country Women’s Association and even tracked down my Great Grandmother’s cookbook complete with handwritten notes.

My first instinct was to get an idea of how things were done in the past: recipes tried, tested and true. Confusion arose when I found that many modern recipes use vastly different methods and ingredients to those of previous generations. The array of ingredients and utensils available to cooks and chefs today would once have been unimaginable to my Grandmother, her mother, and her mother’s mother.

 As a member of a new generation continuing my family’s traditions, and while I look to the past for guidance, I am also seeking to forge my own identity as a farmer, a farmer’s daughter and a farmer’s wife. With this in mind, I decided to be bold and experiment, creating something new and individual using the best ideas from both worlds.

The fruit I most enjoyed experimenting with was figs. While I was always aware of the figs being harvested each year as I was growing up, I never thought much about them until they began to appear more widely in food magazines and on restaurant menus. Perhaps once more commonly found in the kitchens of Mediterranean Australians who have long cherished them and know the best ways to bring out their magic, the lucious qualities of this fruit are increasingly being celebrated by our best produce-driven chefs.

First, some farmer’s advice. There are a few important rules for selecting the best fruit.

• In contrast to many fruits, figs do not ripen after they are picked, so buy them from someone who cares about their provenance, make friends with your grower or grocer, and don’t be afraid to ask questions!

• Fruit at the peak of its flavour should be plump and not too firm.

• If you are purchasing figs for preserving, choose fruit that is juicy, soft and even split.

• The riper the fruit, the higher its natural sugar and pectin content, making it perfect for preserving while still bearing maximum flavour.

We grow varieties including Black Genoa, Brown Turkey and White Adriatic – each unique in its texture and flavour.

• The Black Genoa is the most common variety grown and sold in Australia, identified by its black skin and prized for its lucious speckled red interior and sweet flavour.

• Brown Turkeys have brown speckled skin with a lighter red-orange interior, and are at their best early in the season.

• By the season’s end however, my favourite is the White Adriatic, a simply magnificent fruit. With striking bright green skin, many people mistakenly believe this fruit is unripe, as we learned from the inquiries of curious market customers.

Once the flesh is broken however, the seductive, sweet, red-pink flesh is revealed. After one taste, our customers came back week after week for more, thankful that I had not consumed them all during the picking process!

The rain and the cold in the central west finishes our figs off before many other regions. The rain got to our Brown Turkey figs first and then the cold to my beloved White Adriatics. Once the cold and frost hits us the fruit stops ripening on the trees, bringing the season to an end. The Black Genoas, with the longest season, were the most plentiful and the subject of most of my culinary experiments, one of which I am glad to be able to share with you here. Such is the beauty of jams and preserves that I now have a supply in the pantry to tide me over to next year.

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2011 12:50 pm

    Figs are one of my favourite fruits and yours are some of the nicest I’ve ever had! It was so much fun picking figs with Katie on our trip to Orange last year! 🙂

    • March 9, 2011 12:08 pm

      I can not believe that was almost a year ago……WOW. I think I was sick of them by that stage wasn’t I? We will have to see if I get sick of them as quickly this year or not 🙂 Katie

  2. Sandy Johansen permalink
    March 8, 2011 2:02 pm

    Fantastic, can’t wait to get to Castle Hill market on saturday for your figs and your other wonderful fresh produce. Happy growing!

  3. March 8, 2011 5:05 pm

    OH I am SURELY ordering a case! Yum!!!

  4. March 12, 2011 10:16 pm

    Can I visit the farm or do you only sell at the markets? Your figs look divine! My friend lives in Castle Hill and we’ve been wanting to visit the markets but haven’t had a free weekend together. We’re planning to go soon though.
    http://www.gourmetician.com

    • August 11, 2011 3:12 pm

      Hello

      At this stage we only sell our produce through the markets and through box order through our local stall in Orange, A Slice of Orange.
      Our produce (apples, pears, garlic and figs) can also be found at Galluzzo’s Fruit and Veg store in Glebe.
      There is a part of our website (right hand column/bar) that lists other restaurants and stores that use or sell our produce.

      We do occasionally open the farm for set farm tours through the year and also occasionally pre organised private group tours of the farm. As it is a working farm until this becomes a full time option these tours do have to be pre-booked/organised.

  5. Clare permalink
    March 19, 2011 8:11 pm

    Can I call dibs on a jar of fig jam?
    Sure…I’m not sure if it will survive in our house until I’m home in July. But a girl can dream. Right?
    Clare M

    • August 11, 2011 3:13 pm

      Welcome Home, again!
      Let me know next time you visit so I can make sure there are jars at the store/markets and will make sure one is put aside for you!! 🙂
      Otherwise I will post a jar………

  6. April 2, 2011 11:11 am

    Hi John, dashed home from the markets today and made this yummy recipe from your figs.
    http://lifeisapumpkin.blogspot.com/2011/04/grilled-figs-stuffed-with-ricotta.html

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