With so many stands offering different varieties, the novice buyer may wonder whether figs are ripe and how they differ in taste. Dark fig varieties include Black Missions, which are generally the most full-flavored, and Brown Turkeys, which are milder with fewer seeds. Light fig varieties include Calimyrnas, which have a nutty taste, and Kadotas, which have few seeds and are good for drying.
As always, the best way to choose is to talk to the farmer, try a sample, and let your nose and taste buds guide you. Fresh figs are delicate, so it's best not to squeeze them (see Farmer's Market Etiquette: How to Choose Ripe Fruit). Look for plump figs with intact, bent stems. Minor bruises are usually harmless, but avoid buying dry, cracked figs. Figs have a short shelf life once they are picked. Upon bringing them home, store them in the refrigerator or a very cool place and eat within a few days.
Stay tuned for another recipe later this week!
(Images: Gregory Han and Emily Ho)