September 13, 2009

Figs Again

This past week has been all about figs here in the 'burbs.

Fresh figs have a very short shelf life. Once plucked from the tree, they cease ripening; daily harvesting is desirable to capture them at prime goodness. The luscious fruits maintain freshness for but a few days, even refrigerated. Timing is everything with fresh figs.

My mind always turns to my grandparents during fig season. From my grandfather, I learned how to determine ripeness, pick them gently, and appreciate the delight of eating them right off the tree. And while I never saw my grandmother "put up" figs, I devoured my fair share of her output. My sister preferred the squished variety while I was drawn to the whole fig preserves.

Whole figs. Preserved in sweet, sweet syrup. Smashed on buttered toast. Or, omg, on a soft biscuit! Or gripped by the hint of stem and dangled right from the jar over my mouth, the sweet syrup dripping on my tongue (and sometimes my chin and, yeah okay, my shirt) just before my teeth sank into the plump rich figgy goodness.

Such are my thoughts during fig season. This year, however, those thoughts were accompanied by an irresistible wild hair to "put up" some figs of my own, Grandmommy style.

Yeah, I know. WTF?

A problem immediately arose. I had never "put up" anything. Sure I understand the basic premise, but canning is serious business. Do it wrong and people get sick. Plus it requires implements. I didn't know exactly what implements, but I was pretty sure I didn't own them. More urgently, it requires knowledge and experience. Knowledge I can get from the OGAPI but experience requires doing. I needed a teacher!

Fortunately I knew just the person. An old friend, a woman who knows about many things I don't, such as the ins and outs of the art of canning. An email exchange later, enthusiasm abounded. While having never canned figs, plenty of other fruits and vegetables met their fate in jars by her hand. She was willing to try something new and had the tools. A date was made, details discussed, duties assigned. Bonus? Canning takes time. Extended boiling is involved, followed by more boiling. We would be hanging out for hours. The perfect script wrote itself. The performance brought a standing ovation.

I did it just now. Dangled a juicy, dripping preserved fig over my mouth and devoured it. Memory Lane is an awesome road to wander.

Thanks, Kerry!



Jesse said...

I've never had a fresh (or freshly "put up") fig in my life. They look delicious and the way you describe them, I think I have to find someone with a tree. Like now.


Lee said...

I don't like preserved anything for the most part, but fresh figs are alright....sounds like an adventure