The common fig (Ficus carica) is a small tree, native to southwest Asia. This edible fig is widely admired for its fruit and commercially grown in the United States in California, Oregon, Texas, and Washington. It also makes a great tree for the Southern landscape and fruits in southern climes in mid-July.
In the U.S., figs typically ripen from July through frost in the South, August and later as you travel north. In my personal case, I have way too many figs for my family to use and have to work at preventing waste. My advice to fig growers with an abundant fig crop is to be creative. Here are some suggestions:
- Eat as many fresh ripe figs as you can. They are delicious, nutritious and great as a breakfast fruit or morning snack.
- Can or preserve the fig fruit or prepare as a jam. Use these preserving tips from About Gardening Guide Marie Iannotti.
- Freeze the fig fruit and enjoy at anytime, in any recipe.
- Dry the fruit and package for future consumption.
- Share with friends and birds.
Ficus carica also has a very important history. It was one of the first plants ever to be cultivated by humans. Fossilized figs dating to 9400-9200 BC were found in an early Neolithic village in the Jordan Valley. About's Archaeology Guide, Kris Hirst says figs were domesticated "five thousand years earlier" than millet or wheat. This common fig has been very kind to us throughout human history.
My Fig Tree in Montgomery, Alabama - Photo by Steve Nix, Licensed to About.com