About five years ago one of my bookclub friends gave me a little fig tree that was a volunteer from the fig tree in her yard. I planted it in the sunniest spot in my side yard and waited to see what would happen. I didn't know anything about figs and didn't even know they could grow in this zone 7 area. The first winter it was hit hard by ice and snow. That spring it didn't put out new leaves and I thought it was gone. Late in the spring I saw new shoots coming up out of the ground, and sure enough it regrew from a new trunk. The next year it grew a little bigger, but still no figs appeared. It gradually got bigger every year since. Last year was the first year we had figs. There were fewer than 20 total for the whole season, and I let Buddy eat them right off the tree because he loves them. I wasn't particularly impressed with the flavor or texture.
This year we saw our first small green fig in April. It didn't get ripe until June. Then a new batch appeared, not ripening till now. I am surprised at how long they stay little and green. I need to do more research on growing figs. The picture in my blog header is of a green fig on the tree, BTW.
This is the first year I have tried to cook with figs. I searched online for recipes for gluten free fig cookies and borrowed from all the ones I found that looked really good. I used Pamela's Ultimate Gluten Free Baking mix, and took the cookie recipe off the bag for the core of my own creation. If you want to make these cookies with regular flour (not gluten free), just add a tsp. of baking powder, half tsp. of baking soda and half tsp. salt to the recipe. It's basically the same as chocolate chip cookies, but pressed in a pan with a layer of fig jam in between layers of cookie dough. Here's what I did:
Fig Bar Cookies
2 c. figs, quartered with stems cut off
1/2 c. sugar
1 T. lemon juice
Simmer on low for 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Jam will thicken. Cool.
1 1/2 c. Pamela's Gluten Free Baking & Pancake Mix
1/2 c. Butter Flavored Crisco (you can use butter or margarine)
1/2 c. brown sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
Cream Crisco, sugar, eggs & vanilla. Add flour and mix. Dough will be stiff. Spread half dough in a 9 x 11 inch baking pan.
Spread fig jam over dough.
Roll our other half of dough between two layers of plastic wrap. Remove top piece of plastic wrap, turn dough onto fig jam, remove plastic wrap, press down around the edges. Prick with a fork.
Bake @ 350 for 20 minutes. Cookies should be dark brown around the edges and toasty looking all over. Leave in for 5 more minutes if they don't look dark enough. Cool in the pan. Cut into squares when still warm.
I wish I had started with more figs so I could have a thicker jam filling layer the first time I made these. The figs only ripen one or two a day and they only keep in the fridge for a couple days, so it's tricky collecting enough to make really satisfying cookies. I think I should make the jam every two or three days and store it in the fridge to bake with later. Anyone else make yummy things with figs? What else are you harvesting these days?