Do you sometimes crave a whole green fig, but all the ones you find are either not organic, or not frozen rock solid? Well I have good news! Trader Joe’s is solving both of your problems at once with their frozen Organic Whole Green Figs!
The last time we looked at any of Trader Joe’s figs it was their Black Mission Figs, which I found pleasantly sweet and tasty, if you can get over the somewhat unnerving fleshiness of them. Well fleshiness isn’t a problem this time around, because they’re coming to you in the form of rock hard iceballs!
The first thing you’ll notice when you pick these figs up is that Trader Joe’s didn’t go looking for the small ones. Each fig in the bag is a hefty little monster, considerably larger than the fresh Black Mission Figs you might be able to find in the produce aisle. Apart from the size, these green figs (also called kadota figs) are somewhat less sweet than the black figs from before. That said, they’re still figs – which means they’re still quite sweet indeed, and have the same mushy-soft / crispy-seedy center that gives them such a unique bite.
We spent plenty of time reviewing the history of these meaty drupes last time, so I won’t bore you all again with a lecture on prehistoric agriculture. This time let’s take a look at the religious perspective.
As you might expect from a fruit man has had such a long history with (11,000 years+), religion has a good deal to say about figs – in particular considering that they’ve been cultivated widely through the that fertile belt of religion that begins around the Mediterranean and stretches all the way to South East Asia. As such, all the big time religions feature figs in their holy books to a considerable degree.
Adam and Eve, for instance, sought to cover up their shame from God with the trusty old fig leaf – maybe not the best choice considering that figs are a notable skin allergens, and that the natural latex that the fig tree produces is a serious eye irritant. Nevertheless, thanks to A&E, fig leaves entered the art world for a pretty good stretch of centuries as the de facto tasteful genital cover in paintings and sculptures.
Meanwhile, in the religion of Islam, the fig is considered one of the two sacred trees, along with that other old favorite the olive. Going further we find that the historical Buddha went out and achieved enlightenment under the bodhi tree – otherwise known as the sacred fig tree – and that the fig is even considered to be the “world tree” from which all springs in Hinduism. Even Jesus got in on the fig tree, when he chose to kill one in Mark 11:12 by cursing it to death for not bearing fruit. Harsh Jesus!
That’s a pretty good pedigree, the fig! But all that said, what reason do I really have to buy these things frozen?
Obviously, getting them fresh is always going to be your best option, but due to their high sugar content, figs ripen and spoil very quickly. A ripe fig will even split under the strain of it’s own sweet innards if left too long, so transporting the fresh produce is a considerably trickier prospect than, say, an apple.
If you’re feeling a hankering for figs, know that the frozen solution is not a perfect one. For starters, the figs seem to freeze inconsistently. In my bag, I found that three or four were somewhat mushy, even when the others were frozen solid – and that’s after a few days in the back of my freezer! These mushier figs didn’t seem to be bad necessarily, just soft. That said, you might want to feel around for a couple different bags to find one that’s perfectly hard and frozen.
If you want to enjoy your green figs right away, you can throw them in a blender and try out this tasty and quick smoothie recipe.
If you’d rather enjoy your figs thawed, you’ll need to slowly defrost them in your fridge for a few hours. However, at this point be prepared for a shock. These defrosted figs are incredibly slimy and incredibly mushy. That’s simply an unavoidable aspect of the freezing process – and the price you’ll pay if you want figs you can defrost any time.
It’s somewhat off putting, and nowhere near as nice as handling actual fresh figs, but while the texture is somewhat compromised the taste is still the same.
If you can stand the wait to thaw these, and the softness, there are lots of great recipes that call for the refined sweetness of green figs.
Here’s one that I like, a rather laid back recipe for laid back times.
Fig, Arugula and Goat Cheese Flat Bread
- 1 flat bread
- 1 or 2 tsp olive oil
- Some arugula
- Some awesome goat cheese
- Trader Joe’s Organic Green Figs (quartered)
- Pre-heat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Paint the flat bread with olive oil, until it has a nice sheen.
- Lay down a bed of arugula. On top of this add your (thawed) quartered, green figs and as much goat cheese as you feel comfortable with.
- Pop you prepared flat bread in the oven and heat until toasty. About 5-10 minutes
- Enjoy the hell out of it with a few friends while discussing philosophy, the sunset, or Game of Thrones.
Note to you, the reader If you like this recipe, or want to see more, let me know! And feel free to share your notes on it in the comments.
Would I Recommend Them: I’d look for fresh figs first – but these are a good stand in.
Would I Buy Them Again: Sure, I really like that flat bread!
Final Synopsis: Not as good as getting your figs fresh, but more convenient.
Trader Joe’s Black Figs. They seem interesting, I like the name, but how do you eat them? It’s a question that betrays by ignorance as a novice fig eater. My childhood home had plenty of the mundane fruit – your apples, oranges and bananas, but the wider world of fascinating fruit was unknown to me until adulthood. Certainly not figs. Maybe that’s why I’m so fascinated by exotic plumcots and saturn peaches. Once you figure out what to do with these figs (just put them in your mouth and chew, it turns out), you’ll have to decide if you like sweet, meaty drupes or not. We’ll get to that in a second.
The intriguing thing about fruit, for me, is that it’s always a very interesting food to interface with. Unlike, say, a hamburger, there’s always some sort of trick to eating a fruit, and every fruit’s trick is different. Whether it be natural or cultural, it seems there’s always a technique that makes the eating of any given fruit more fun/tasty/neat, the not knowing of which leaves you facing a messy, unpalatable or even inedible enigma.
The first time I picked up a whole persimmon, I remember just staring at it, turning it over in my hands. It was like suddenly reverting back to the mind set of a monkey, just me and a new piece of food, wondering “Do I peel this or what?”
Of course, somewhere in the world someone knows exactly the best way to eat a persimmon. “Let it soften and use a spoon!” they’re yelling, just like someone knows the best way to peel a banana or how to slice a mango. Nature isn’t spending any money in the Market Research department, standing around and saying, “Yes, but will our target demographic like getting the coconuts open?” Unlike Target or Apple, Nature isn’t bothered by the user interface. It brings its product to market regardless, it’s up to us if we’re going to figure out how to use them.
All of this fig eating ignorance on my part is very ridiculous considering that figs are possibly the first crop ever grown by man – with historical evidence tracing fig cultivation back to 9000 BC – about 11,000 years ago. The fact that we’re still munching on figs nowadays suggests that the fig must be a real crowd pleaser.
The first thing you’ll notice when you get your Trader Joe’s fig is the yielding, fleshy texture of the fruit. This is an ordinary characteristic of ripe figs, but slightly off putting as well. Hold the fig by the stem and bite in – the taste is lusciously sweet, but also complex. The smooth skin, the meaty fruit and the crunchy seeds all combine for a fruit that is completely different from anything I’ve had before. The inside of the fig is a bright, strawberry pink color, which contrasts beautifully with the purple-black exterior. I found I could enjoy a handful of these 2 or 3, but the sticky sweetness and the taste of high dietary fiber (like that of a ripe prune) warned me off of having any more. Overall, it was a good experience, but not one that I’d need to have daily or even weekly. That said, there are a number of interesting ways to incorporate the figs into other foods or cuisines if you don’t necessarily warm up to them as snacks.
Trader Joe’s might have the best suggestion themselves on their website – try cutting a fig in half, adding a few blue cheese crumbles and a touch of honey. Voila, the perfect hors d’oeuvre.
Would I Recommend Them: Yes, this is an intriguing, tasty and different fruit. If you’ve never had a fig, you should go out and try these.
Would I Buy Them Again: Probably not, except maybe to impress guests.
Final Synopsis: Sweet and fleshy – interesting fruits to shake up your boring fruit bowl.