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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

We Give a Fig!

September's Food of the Month is FIGS! 

More than a modest leafy cover-up, figs (and their leaves!) are the most luscious and versatile of our September harvest. We don’t mind saying goodbye to summer when it means fig season! This month is prime-time for figs to shine in your house, and they’re a great source of nutrients in a kid-friendly package.

Turns out, figs are one of the oldest cultivated foods known to man. We have been farming them for over 11,000 years (likely before most grains) and they’ve been growing in California (producer of 98% of the nation’s figs) since the Spanish explorers brought them in the 1500’s. With the PeasHQ located in the heart of San Francisco, we feel it’s our duty to take advantage of fig season!

Figs are jam-packed with loads of great nutrients.  In their freshest and ripest form they are packed with antioxidants and fiber, and per the USDA, they are a good source of Calcium and Potassium, as well as Vitamin K and Magnesium.

Their sweet flesh and cartoon-cute shape make them an easy sell with kids. Not to mention that bright colored inside can attract even the wariest of our little ones. The best part, however, is definitely the fact that these little superfruits are perfect for literally any age – our young ones with small hands and only a smattering of tiny teeth can power through our ripest figs while our older ones can just grab-n-go with no worries about a pit or a peel.  We’ve all been handed those apple cores and banana peels as though we had a wastebasket for a handbag!

Getting Choosey

When you’re eyeing the figs at the market this month, what should you look for?
-       Plump and tender
-       Slightly leathery skin (but not withered or dry)
-       Aromatic – they should smell sweet!
-       Deep, rich colors

Once you’re home, toss them in the fridge if they’re ripe (well, don’t actually toss them, but you know) or leave them on the counter if they’re a touch under. Just remember to use ‘em fast (never a problem in our house!) because they are so delicate and perishable. To help extend their life in your house, don’t wash them until you’re about to eat them.

Use Em’ or Lose Em’

Okay, so now you’ve come home with a pint or two of these beauties. How to make the best use of them while they’re abundant?

We have a few suggestions from the PeasHQ

Easy:  Figs and breakfast are the most laid back of friends. Slice those babies over some greek yogurt, oatmeal, or a big bowl of cereal. An easy way to get a few extra nutrients into the morning routine.

Medium:  Put a fig on it! Slice your figs into quarters or so. Grab some pizza dough, or phyllo dough, or even some frozen naan. Any flatbread will do here. Spread some cheese on the dough while your oven heats up (375 should do the trick.) Figs LOVE cheese – anything from ricotta or goat cheese to fontina or mozzarella. Now add your figs and a nut or an herb. Walnuts are lovely, as is a bit of basil or oregano. Get fancy with pomegranite seeds or caramelized onions. Bake until the cheese is melted and the figs are roasted. Slice. Try not to burn your mouth.

Extra Credit

OH NO! : So it’s happened to us all – you forgot about the figs in the fridge, or went out for pizza, or took a decadent weekend trip to Hawaii (a mom can dream!) and now you’ve got to use those figs STAT! Here is where jam comes to your rescue. Chop em up, throw them in a thick-bottomed pot (more Kardashian than Kidman) with a glug or two of honey. Cook on low for half an episode of Modern Family. Stir it when you remember. Now it looks like a jammy preserve, right? If not, give it til the end of the episode. Add a touch of vinegar or lemon juice, Done! Now chill it in clean containers and it’ll keep in the fridge for about 2 weeks.

No matter how you eat them, figs are a great way to introduce new food and seasonal eating habits to our favorite little ones!

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