By Riki Shore
In April of this year, Andrea Reusing published her first cookbook, Cooking in the Moment. Reusing is the chef and owner of the Chapel Hill, NC restaurant Lantern, one of my favorite places to eat in the Triangle, so I was eager to try out her recipes. The whole book is worthwhile, but the most interesting section for me was the one on pickling fruits and vegetables.
I couldn’t wait until the end of summer to try these pickled figs. Figs seem to grow all over the place near my house. The bakery right next door as a dwarf fig in a pot on their patio (flanked by a kumquat tree and a lime tree). The library two blocks away has an enormous 100 year old Moreton Bay Fig tree on its property. The roots are so large children devise games that seem to involve entire cities and last for hours under the leaves of that tree.
Even if you don’t have your own figs growing in a pot, they’re at the farmer’s market and in the grocery stores at this time of year. These pickled figs are easy to make, inexpensive, and they keep for a nice long time. They’re elegant on a cheese plate paired with both a salty hard cheese like a Pecorino or Parmesan, or a creamy, spreadable goat cheese. Make sure to include a few slices of speck or prosciutto, too.
If you want something sweeter, add the figs to softly whipped cream or vanilla ice cream with a drizzle of port for a delicious dessert. If you’re planning an end-of-summer party, use the syrup in the jar to liven up a glass of Prosecco or ginger ale.
Of course, you can always just eat these with spoon, too. Enjoy!
2/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 1/3 cups sugar
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
3 allspice berries
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1 pound fresh figs
1. Bring vinegar, 1 cup of sugar and salt to a simmer in a small, heavy pot. Add the allspice berries and cloves. Cover the pot and remove from the heat, allowing the spices to steep for 10 minutes.
2. Add the figs to the pot and return it to a simmer over low heat. Cook for 10 minutes, then cool, cover and refrigerate everything in the pot overnight.
3. The next day, add the last 1/3 cup of sugar to the pot. Bring to a simmer over low heat and cook until the figs are soft and slightly shrunken, about 15 minutes.
4. Pour everything into a jar, cool and refrigerate. The pickled figs will keep for up to 1 month.