Figs, the sexy sister to prunes, seem to be popping up in dozens of new products including jams, chutneys, chocolates, cereal bars, balsamic vinegars and packaged goat cheese.
Like prunes, figs are high in fibre, calcium and potassium and aid in digestion. They're low in cholesterol and fat-free.
"They're fantastic in terms of fibre. Depending on the size, having between three and five either dried or fresh figs gives you five grams of fibre. What's unique about the fibre is the mix of insoluble fibre and soluble fibre," says Christy Brissette, a registered dietitian in Toronto and president of 80 Twenty Nutrition.
Insoluble fibre, found in wheat bran, whole grains and some vegetables, helps promote regularity and a healthy digestive system, Dietitians of Canada says. Soluble fibre helps lower blood cholesterol levels and control blood sugar levels. This type of fibre is found in oats, barley, psyllium, oranges, dried beans and lentils.
Home cooks are fashioning easy appetizers out of dried figs by stuffing them -- with gorgonzola or soft goat cheese and a walnut or almond -- to elevate a charcuterie platter.
The sweet-tasting fruit with its unique texture can also be used in stuffing for roast pork loin, sauce for chicken or pasta, sliced into quinoa salad, or served on overnight oats and in yogurt bowls.
Turkey is the No. 1 fig grower while California is the third largest producer of fresh and dry figs, says Karla Stockli of the California Fig Advisory Board.
Nearly 50% of the fresh California crop is exported to Canada. Fresh are available from May to December while dried figs are in stores year-round.
Some of the more common types shipped to Canada include Black Mission -- the oldest variety planted in California by missionaries in the 1600s -- and Golden varieties, which can be a mix of Calimyrna, Kadota and Sierra.
Small quantities of a new fresh variety called Tiger were exported to Canada last year. The pretty fig has yellow and green stripes with a vibrant raspberry-red interior.