Like the date, there are several different varieties of figs depending upon the region in which they are grown. When ripe they have a texture similar to a peach, but should be firm, not soft or mushy. In the Middle East one of the most popular recipes for figs is Figs in Syrup, a light desert containing figs drizzled with a sweet syrup.
The fig fruit comes from the fig tree popularly known as the Common Fig. When ripe, the fig fruit is harvested and can be eaten both fresh and dry. Although figs have gained a reputation from the popular cookie, Fig Newtons, fresh figs have an altogether different taste, similar to a strawberry and peach. For those that are health conscious, figs contain more fiber than any other fruit or vegetable, as well as antioxidants.
Figs can sometimes be difficult to find, but they are definitely worth looking for. Most likely they will be found in the produce section of grocery stores, or dried in the baking section. In the U.S. fig season is usually around July and August and lasts only a few months. Dried figs can be found all year long. When purchasing fresh figs, look for fruit that is slightly soft. Fresh figs are highly perishable so purchase only if they will be used within a day or two. Check the fruit to make sure they are not bruised and have a deep, rich color. To store fresh figs, keep in the refrigerator, covered or wrapped. Again, fresh figs will only last a couple of days at most so use as soon as possible.
Dried figs, on the other hand, will last several months when stored wrapped in the refrigerator or a cool, dry place away from light. To prepare, wash fresh figs thoroughly and remove its stem. Dried figs can be used or eaten immediately as is.