Truly a classic fruit of the Mediterranean, figs date back to 3,000 B.C. and were used by the Assyrians as sweeteners. They were also Cleopatra's favorite fruit.
Figs are best when eaten slowly and savored, from the soft pink flesh to the tiniest edible seeds. The peels are perfectly edible too. Look for fresh figs in markets from June through October. There are hundreds of varieties, ranging in color from pale green to golden yellow to deep purple, and in shape from round to oval to teardrop. Mission fig, one of the more popular types, migrated to North America with Spanish missionaries.
When choosing figs, hold the fig in your hand. It should be firm and unblemished, yielding slightly to very gentle pressure. Figs are highly perishable, so enjoy them as soon as you can. If you must store, refrigerate for up to 3 days. Figs are also quite sticky. If you need to cut them, refrigerate the fruit for 1 hour to reduce stickiness. Use scissors to snip the figs into bits. If using a knife, periodically dip the blade in hot water or coat the blade with cooking spray.