Fig season kicks off in the summer and we can start to get our hands on the fresh fruits from the Mediterranean in July.
«If wasps are buzzing around you, you’re almost too late!» warns Mattias Roock, Executive Chef at Castello del Sole in Ascona. He sources the delicacies from the hotel’s very own garden.
´Figs like warm weather and most famously come from Turkey, Italy and France. They can grow nicely here in the south of Switzerland too thanks to the mild Mediter- ranean climate. Our harvesting season falls between the end of August and the end of October. Of course, you can find cultivated figs in the supermarkets all year round. But if you prefer to buy local fruit, you will be pleased to hear that Swiss figs are available in some specialist shops, at organic markets and directly from producers online towards the end of summer.´
´Since fresh figs are delicate and ripen very quickly, it is best to eat them straight away. They do last for a few days longer if kept in the fridge, though. I tend to take them out of the fridge just before serving to give them time to come to room temperature and unleash their full flavour sensation. If you want to be able to enjoy your figs for a bit longer, I recommend whipping up a batch of lovely fig marmalade to spread on bread. Alternatively, take out some of the sweetness to create a delicious accompaniment for cheese.´
´Figs are a welcome addition to spicy, salty and sour dishes, and they go nicely with cheese and ham, on pizza and in salads, sandwiches and chutneys. We serve them up with goat’s cheese as a starter, for example, or with Ticinese yoghurt and honey from our farm Terreni alla Maggia as a dessert.´
´There are countless fig varieties. We grow Ficus carica, also known as the common fig, in our garden. It goes a violet colour when it’s ripe. The same fig is given at least one different name in each country. The colour ranges from green to violet and the size from tiny to large.´
“You can tell if a fig is nice and ripe just by feeling it. They should be soft to the touch and you should be able to gently squeeze them and pick them with ease.”
You want the skin to be thin and delicate. When you cut into them, they should drip with red juice.
Homemade fig marmalade
Wash the figs in cold water and dry with kitchen roll. Cut into slices 2 mm thick. Place in a bowl with the sugar, vanilla pod and lemon juice. Leave to marinate for one hour. Tip the mixture into a large pan and bring to the boil, stirring gently. Cover and chill in the fridge overnight. The next day, bring to the boil and simmer for 5–10 minutes, stirring continuously. Carefully skim off the surface of the marmalade. Continue to simmer until you have the perfect consistency. Add the rum and heat to a temperature of 105°. Pour the marmalade straight into preprepared jars that have been heated in the oven. Make sure that the jars are properly sealed. Place the jars on a baking tray and heat in the oven for 8 minutes at 130 degrees. Remove from the oven, cover with a tablecloth and leave to slowly cool and stand for 48 hours.
3 kg fresh figs
1 kg sugar
1 vanilla pod
100 ml dark rum
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