Fig season arrives early

Figs usually go on sale in France around August 20, but this year’s heat has brought the harvest early

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August, September and October are when figs come into full bloom.

France produces 4000 tonnes annually of the versatile fruit, which thrives in the Mediterranean region where 90% of global output is produced. There are around 700 named global fig varieties.

In France, Languedoc-Roussillon is noted for its fig production. The Figue de Solliès is the most widespread, accounting for 75% of the market. Other varieties include the Rouge de Bordeaux, the Sultane, the Marseillaise, the Noire de Caromb and the Goutte d'or.

The Figue de Solliès is an appellation d'origine contrôlée and an appellation d'origine protégée, classifications which recognise and protect regional specialities.

But French production pales in comparison to the world’s number one producer Turkey, which grows around 300,000 tonnes of figs annually.

Louis XIV was reportedly a big fan of the fruit, and planted 700 fig trees in his garden. It is believed the Greeks introduced the fruit to France.

Figs can accompany savoury or sweet dishes, have a low calorie count, and contain a good dose of dietary fibre and essential B vitamins. They can be turned into jam, included in tarts or alongside cheese, and can even be made into wine.

Several annual Fêtes de la Figue take place across France. In Solliès-Pont in the Var a fig festival will run from August 25 to 27, and in Le Mas D’Azil in the Ariège there will be a festival from September 30 to October 1.

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