A Seasonal Food Adventure – The Sweet Delight of Growing and Cooking with Figs in the UK

The best of September seasonal food

As the seasons change and we transition from the warm embrace of summer to the crisp allure of autumn, it’s time to celebrate one of the UK’s most delightful and underrated seasonal fruits – figs. These delectable, sun-kissed treasures have been cultivated for centuries and are now making their mark in British gardens and kitchens. In this blog post, we’ll explore the joys of growing and cooking with figs in the UK, providing you with all the information you need to make the most of this unique and delicious seasonal food.

Why Figs in the UK?

Before we delve into the cultivation and culinary wonders of figs, you might wonder why they’re worth the effort in a climate known for its unpredictable weather. Well, figs are surprisingly hardy and can thrive in the UK’s temperate climate, especially in the milder regions. They’re also a sustainable choice, as growing your own reduces the need for imported figs, reducing your carbon footprint and supporting local agriculture.

Growing Figs in the UK

  1. Varieties: There are several fig varieties that are well-suited to the UK, such as ‘Brown Turkey,’ ‘Celeste,’ and ‘Brunswick.’ These varieties are more cold-tolerant and can withstand the British winters better than others.
  2. Location: Figs love the sun, so choose a sunny spot in your garden or on your patio. South-facing walls or the warmth of a greenhouse can provide the perfect microclimate for fig trees to flourish.
  3. Soil: Well-draining soil is key to healthy figs. Adding organic matter like compost can improve soil structure and fertility, ensuring your fig tree gets the nutrients it needs.
  4. Planting and Pruning: Fig trees are best planted in spring or early autumn. Prune in late winter or early spring to remove dead or damaged growth and shape the tree.
  5. Protection: Figs may need protection in the colder months. Wrapping the tree in horticultural fleece or using a cloche can prevent winter damage.

Harvesting Figs

Figs typically ripen from late summer to early autumn in the UK. Harvest them when they’re fully ripe and slightly soft to the touch. Overripe figs can burst and attract pests.

Cooking with Figs

Now that you’ve successfully grown your figs, it’s time to savour the culinary delights they offer. Figs can be enjoyed in various dishes, both sweet and savoury:

  1. Fresh and Simple: The simplest way to enjoy figs is to eat them fresh. Slice them and add to salads for a burst of sweetness and texture.
  2. Fig Jam: Make your own fig jam by simmering figs with sugar and a touch of lemon juice. This versatile condiment can be used as a spread, a glaze for meats, or a topping for desserts.
  3. Roasted Figs: Roasting figs with honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon brings out their natural sweetness. Serve them as a dessert with a dollop of yogurt or alongside roasted meats for a sweet and savory contrast.
  4. Fig and Goat Cheese Tart: Create a delightful tart by combining figs with creamy goat cheese, honey, and thyme on a puff pastry base. It’s an elegant and easy-to-make dish for special occasions.
  5. Fig Salad: Toss figs with arugula, prosciutto, and balsamic vinaigrette for a flavourful and visually appealing salad.

Growing and cooking with figs in the UK is a rewarding experience that connects you to the seasons and the land. These versatile fruits can be enjoyed in a multitude of culinary creations, bringing a touch of Mediterranean flavour to your British kitchen. As you nurture your fig tree and explore new recipes, you’ll discover the sweet and savoury wonders that this seasonal food has to offer, making figs a delightful addition to your seasonal eating repertoire. So, embrace the fig season and savour every bite of this delicious fruit grown right in your own backyard.