Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Fig Madness (+ How to make most out of Fig Harvest)

On last Friday, we went to Camino de la Tierra Community School to harvest figs. As you can see in the picture, we harvested dozens of dozen--I wouldn't lie, bringing them back to Iskashitaa office was a struggle indeed. Still, it was an amazing experience, thanks to Sherrelle, Marim and their fantastic work in harvesting figs. We are planning to come back to this harvesting site again, because there are unripened figs that we can harvest in the future. Remember, no fruits left behind!

It was my first time harvesting figs (so far all of the harvest I went were grapefruits), so I was really excited to see actual figs on tree. Unlike harvesting grapefruits, however, harvesting figs requires a particular code of conduct one needs to follow. Part of the reason to that is fig leaves and milky white latex that fig tree secretes results in varying degrees of itchiness. In addition, figs, when ripen, tend to be very mushy, so picking them up without deforming them requires certain technique. 

In order to get most out of fig harvest, there are certain tools one needs to take--full body suit, toe-covering shoes, and egg cartons--and certain things one needs to be aware of--picking snap, rinsing, and an army of beetles.

First, the tools: full body suit, toe-covering shoes, and egg cartons. In order to prevent the itchiness from the white latex secretion and fig leaves, one should cover his or her skins, including feet and toes. The degree of the itchiness varies person by person, but you know, it's always better safe than sorry. Although some of the figs we harvested today were larger than the size of eggs, most of the figs should fit perfectly in the egg carton slots. As a result, taking egg cartons will definitely ease fig harvesting and takes away the hassle of worrying about squishing the figs.

In addition to the tools, one needs to watch out a few things: picking snap technique, rinsing, and a blast of beetles. It is always better to harvest figs with a part of stem attached to the fruits. That way, the figs are fresh and they last longer. After harvesting, the figs can be sticky due to the white latex secreted from the stem, so rinsing them with water will make them easier to handle afterwards. Last but not least, the beetles: usually there are a bunch of beetles on fig trees because the beetles love figs. Although they don't bite or sting, being surrounded by an army of beetles unexpectedly can be quite horrifying. So prepare yourself to see a lot of them!

So with that in mind, you are ready to go harvest figs. I love eating them raw, right from the branch, but the figs can also be used for baked goods, such as tarts or cakes. Harvesting figs was an unforgettable experience for me!

~Da Eun, summer PR intern

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