In this Ingredient Spotlight, we take a closer look at some juicy Brown Turkey Figs, sourced from local, family-owned farms dotted up through California by Western Fresh Marketing.
“The idea was to unite a number of small, local farmers and growers to supply figs and other produce at the peak of their ripeness,” says George Kragie, president and patriarch of family-run Western Fresh Marketing.
“When I started selling figs, in 1994, Brown Turkey figs took a back seat but in these last twenty-two years, people have been picking them as the fig of choice, they’re a little bit larger and extremely versatile.”
From now until the end of September, the figs you’ll find at Maple come straight from the central valley. Figs are abundant, but they’re sensitive to heat—”We can’t grow them when it’s 100 degrees, with that kind of heat you actually cook the fruit!”—so to harvest their figs year-round, George and his family start with local growers in the warmer climes of the desert around Coachella, gradually moving north through the valley as the temperatures rise each month, and returning back south during the winter months when the growing conditions are perfect for the next harvest.
“We work with conscientious growers that are all GLOBALG.A.P.-certified,” George says. “Figs also don’t have natural pests so you won’t find insecticide or spray on them. The only thing that we’ve considered is to control weeds and many of our growers don’t even feel the need to use that.”
Fortunately, for us and for George, figs are enjoying a moment in the sun. “It’s a sexy fruit. It can be used in savory as well as sweet applications. People will take bacon and wrap it around a fig on the grill, you can cut it in half, stem-wise and melt some gorgonzola cheese on it. There are so many ways it can be used,” George says. At Maple, Brown Turkey Figs are featured in a seasonal, nutty Bulgur, Fig, and Hazelnut Bowl with caramelized Brown Turkey Figs and shaved pecorino. George’s figs will also make an appearance in a crunchy, salty lunch sandwich later this month, mixing Brown Turkey Figs with balsamic, manchego, and roasted pork.
“People kind of joke about figs being a sexy fruit,” George says, “but it does have something special about it. It’s one of the oldest fruits in the world and it certainly seems to be growing in popularity. I’m very thankful for that.” Us too, George.
Look for Brown Turkey Figs in:
Bulgar, Fig, & Hazelnut Bowl (w/Shaved Pecorino, Lemon-Pepper Vinaigrette)