Salads, crostini, compote and more ideas for fresh figs, now in season

Noelle Carter

What's in season: Appearing for just a few short weeks during summer, fig season is short but prized. While there are many varieties of figs, the fruit — actually, a fig is an inverted flower — can be divided into two classes: green and black. Here in California, black figs, including smaller Mission and larger, paler Brown Turkey, are most often eaten fresh, as they're generally sweeter and have a more pronounced flavor. Green figs such as Adriatic and Tiger are also prized for their fresh flavor, while Kadota, the most common green fig, has a thicker skin with an often bland flavor, and is best saved for drying or canning.

9 great recipes using fresh figs >>

What to cook: Fresh or dried, figs have a distinctive crunch, owing to the many seeds trapped in the center. Ripe, flavorful figs are best enjoyed fresh as a quick snack, chopped and added to salads or used as a garnish. Throw them on the grill, charring the sugar in fresh figs for caramelized notes and deeper flavor. Figs also work well in jams or as a quick summer pickle. Use dried figs in quick breads and other baked goods.

What's on the horizon: Passion fruit, the wrinkled, reddish-purple fruit, are generally available during the hotter summer months. “Passion” might not be the first word that leaps to mind when you first encounter the fruit, but cut them open, and it’s hard not to become a fan.