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Cooking Q&A: Cooking with Fresh Figs?

What can I do with fresh figs? They’re in season, but I have no idea how to prepare them.

Delicate, juicy figs are one of those summer/early fall delicacies that should be eaten in their natural state. After a light washing, nip the stemlike tip off of the end with a paring knife and cut the fig in half (or in several small vertical slices). Arrange the figs on a plate and drizzle with honey, or sprinkle them with crumbly blue cheese or goat cheese.

Fresh figs have a fairly short shelf life (they seem to start deteriorating as soon as they leave the store), so if you find yourself with an overabundance of ripening figs, make a simple fig chutney or preserves.

Basic Fig Chutney

3 medium red onions
10-15 large, ripe, washed figs
1 1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 Tbl. mustard powder
1/2 tsp. cayenne
1 Tbl. ground ginger
1 tsp. salt
1/4 lb. golden raisins

Halve the onions and slice into thin half-moons. Place all ingredients into a large, heavy saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce flame to medium-low and simmer for 2 hours until chutney has thickened.

Chutney can be stored in an airtight container for up to three weeks.

For details on canning and preserving figs, there's no greater resource than The Jamlady Cookbook by Beverly Ellen Schoonmaker Alfeld.

-- Colleen Rush

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