Sunday, October 16, 2011

summer's officially over...but dried figs provide summer sweetness all year long!

two ways to cut fresh summer figs to dry and preserve them for winter delights! 

my garden and i are blessed with several varieties of fig trees that do well in the pacific northwest. this year's crop came all at once even though the varieties normally ripen in a delightful flow over july, august, and september because of our cool and late summer. drying them is a traditional way to keep them for the winter, as well as making fig jam.
my tried and true way of drying them has been to cut the juicy moist and plump fruits in half after removing the stems, leaving them connected at the blossom end, and placing them on food dryer trays. 
this summer after having dried two full batches in my habitual way, i remembered visiting my dear aunt adele in los angeles a couple of years ago and seeing her just-harvested figs from the trees that my uncle edmond had planted years before he passed away drying in her sewing room on trays in the warm LA breeze. 
she cut them into a 4-pointed star shape—much prettier and faster drying than my halvsies, even when presented on a beautiful wooden dish from India and sprinkled with almonds—a great serving combination.

now you can see auntie adele's inspiring designer cut figs and how they fit like mosaic pieces on the drying try! pretty! and you can see the normally early crop (green outside, light inside) next to the july crop (green outside, red inside) of Desert King, both of which ripened in august/september!

see how much they shrink when dried, which in pacific northwest climate with my food dryer takes about two days.

no recipe needed for this simple treat if you have the abundance of fresh summer figs! mama's fig jam recipe with walnuts and aniseed is in Alice's Kitchen on page 213! happy eating!

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