May 2015 Fig Focus

As the Season Begins…

Most of the activity in the orchards begins in May as the fruit appears on the trees and culminates in October when the final “picking” of the dried fruit is completed. Drought has again plagued the San Joaquin Valley, much like the last three years, and we anticipate an early harvest year of high quality figs.

For Valley Fig Growers, fig production is a year-round business. We are continually preparing the soil, monitoring irrigation and pruning the trees for maximum yields from the orchards.

Unlike other tree fruits or nuts, fig trees have no blossoms on their branches; the flowers are inverted and actually develop inside the fruit. These many tiny flowers produce the crunchy little seeds that give figs their unique texture.

Mother’s Day

Mother’s Day is Sunday, May 10. According to The Old Farmer’s Almanac, Mother’s Day is always celebrated on the second Sunday in May. It’s a day to come together to honor the women who raised us—and all the mothers who sacrificed for their children.

For dinner this Mother’s Day we suggest Sweet and Saucy Charcoal Grilled Salmon with Lime Fig Glaze, a fresh green salad, Jeweled Rice and Mini Fig Cheesecake Tarts for dessert.

Sweet and Saucy Charcoal-Grilled Salmon with Lime-Fig Glaze

Use any brand of heavy-duty aluminum foil to make the grill trays, but be sure to spray the foil with nonstick cooking spray. Alternatively, you can use Reynolds Release Nonstick Aluminum Foil and skip the cooking spray.

Serves 4

1/2 
cup Orchard Choice Organic Mission California Fig Spread

1/2 
cup packed fresh cilantro leaves, including stems

1 
teaspoon grated lime zest plus 2 tablespoon juice

2 
 garlic cloves, minced

1/8 teaspoon red chili flakes

2 
scallions, chopped rough

2 
tablespoons unsalted butter

4 
salmon fillets (each 6 to 8 ounces and 1 1/4 inches thick), skin removed

Salt and pepper

Process fig spread, cilantro, lime zest and lime juice, garlic, chili flakes and scallions in food processor or blender until smooth. Heat glaze in small saucepan over medium heat until just bubbling, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and transfer ¼ cup glaze to small bowl to cool slightly. Stir butter into glaze remaining in saucepan, cover, and set aside.

Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (about 100 coals); burn until coals are covered with fine gray ash, about 20 to 25 minutes. Pour coals over three-quarters of grill; set cooking grate in place, cover, and let grill heat up for 5 minutes.

Cut out four 12 by 8-inch rectangles of heavy-duty aluminum foil. Crimp edges of foil to create four trays that measure 7 by 5-inches with ½ inch sides. Coat trays with cooking spray. Season salmon with salt and pepper, brush each side of each fillet with 1/2 tablespoon reserved glaze (without butter), and place skinned side up on trays. 



Place trays with salmon over hot fire and grill until glaze forms crust, 6 to 8 minutes. (Move fillets to cooler part of the grill if they darken too soon.) Using tongs, flip salmon and cook 1 minute. Spoon half of buttered glaze on salmon and cook until center of each fillet is still just translucent, about 1 minute. Transfer salmon to platter and spoon remaining buttered glaze over it. Serve. 



Recipe courtesy of Cook’s Country from America’s Test Kitchen. Valley Fig Growers is a proud sponsor of Cook’s Country TV.

Mini Fig Cheesecake Tarts

Ingredients
2 (9-inch) refrigerated pie crusts

Filling:
2 cups chopped Blue Ribbon Orchard Choice or Sun-Maid figs (stems removed)
1 cup water
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
2 teaspoons lemon zest

Topping:
2 packages (8 oz. ea.) cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
Garnish with sliced figs and lemon zest curl

Preheat oven to 375°F. Gently unroll crusts; cut 4-1/2 inch circles, using the 4-inch removable tart pan bottom as a guide. Press each piece into 4-inch tart pan; prick bottom with fork. Bake 15-18 minutes or until golden brown. Cool completely.

In medium saucepan, combine filling ingredients; stir over medium-high heat until mixture boils. Reduce heat and cover; simmer until figs are tender, about 10 minutes. Remove cover and simmer until liquid is absorbed and filling starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Transfer mixture to food processor; process until smooth. Set aside to cool.

For topping, combine all ingredients in large bowl; beat with electric mixer until smooth. Spread cooled fig filling into cooled tart shells. Top with cream cheese topping and spread smooth. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with sliced fig and lemon zest curl.

Fig Balsamic Pepper Spread

It’s love at first bite when sweet figs join sassy balsamic vinegar and spicy black pepper. Brighten up cheese trays, garnish grilled meats…the possibilities are endless.

Tasty Tips for Balsamic Pepper Spread

  • Use as a glaze on fish and chicken
  • Thin and use as a dressing for mixed greens
  • Serve with cheese, prosciutto and crackers as an appetizer
  • Try the tips for our other delightful spreads, California Orange, Port Wine, and Organic Mission, that appeared in past issues of Fig Focus
  • Use as a dipping sauce
  • Spread on toasted bagels with cream cheese

“Try ‘Em, You’ll Like ‘Em” Healthy Lifestyle Tips

Take steps every day to live a safe and healthy life. So far in 2015 we’ve offered these tips:

For May Make Minerals Mighty

There are two kinds of minerals: macrominerals and trace minerals. Macrominerals are minerals your body needs in larger amounts. They include calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride and sulfur. Your body needs just small amounts of trace minerals. These include iron, manganese, copper, iodine, zinc, cobalt, fluoride and selenium.

The best way to get the minerals your body needs is by eating a wide variety of foods. Minerals are important for your body to stay healthy. In some cases, your doctor may recommend a mineral supplement. Your body uses minerals for many different jobs, including building bones, making hormones and regulating your heartbeat. California Dried Figs provide potassium, calcium, iron, magnesium and copper, along with smaller amounts of many other essential minerals.

If you make this recipe, snap a photo and tag us @valleyfig —we’d love to see what you’re cooking on Instagram and Facebook!

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