The Figs of Calabria

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The Figs of Calabria

One of the nicest aspects of visiting Calabria during the summer and early Fall is the abundance of fresh fruit available and the ease of securing it.   Consider, for example, that if you’re lucky enough to own a small parcel of land, and the desire to cultivate it, you’ll be guaranteed seculant peaches, pears, grapes, plums, and figs from March through the beginning of October.

My favorite Calabrian fruit is the fig and while we were lucky enough to eat a few figs during our last week in Pellegrina , we missed the prime fig season by a few weeks.  The Dottato fig variety (or Kadota in the US) is the most common in Calabria and is usually found from the 2nd week of August into September (it’s also my personal favorite).  The Dottato fig has green skin and a white / golden interior.  The flesh is creamy, sweet, and bright tasting.  The dottato fig variety is also a good choice for drying.

I find it difficult to buy fresh figs in stores here in the United States as most varieties are hard and not ripe, even at high quality shops.  Your best bet for consuming fresh, high quality, figs in the United States is to plant your own tree or try to find them at local farmer’s markets during the summer months (late June into July and August into early October).  Ripe figs are soft to the touch and best consumed by themselves after a meal or as a snack (you can also consume figs alongside good quality salumi).

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5 Comments

  1. Carmela Lacquaniti Gagliardi

    Hi Vincent, you are making me want to go back to Calabria so bad!! My father’s relatives have fig trees, prickly pear trees and many kinds of other fruits and vegetables on their property. My dad’s uncle was around ninety years old and would take a whole bunch of stuff to sell at the market on the weekends!! I also want to say I love your blog and am so happy to have found it!!

    • Carmela, thank you for the nice words! Your comment makes us want to write and share every day. One of the marvels of Calabria is the fresh fruit! Please help us share the word about our site with your family and friends! Thank you, Vincenzo

  2. Hi! We have a tree that doesn’t ripen either, so I did some research. All fig trees are female. You may have noticed that there aren’t any flowers to precede the fruit…that is because the fig is actually an inside-out flower. (!!!) and because of that, figs can only be pollinated to ripen into luscious fruit if they have been visited by the fig wasp. The fig wasp goes into that tiny hole at the bottom and pollinates the figs from the inside. The thing is…there is a certain species of fig wasp for each species of fig tree. It is a very special relationship…and complex. I am wondering at kidnapping some of the fig wasps and relocating them to the tree on the other side of the yard. I don’t know if it will work, but I’m going to give it a shot!

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