Fresh figs can be both a blessing and a curse. That’s because the intensely honey-sweet fruits tend to ripen all at once on the tree. When they are at their best – so soft that their thin skins just about split – they also are at their most perishable.
You can only eat so many of them fresh. So baking or cooking them is a great way to extend their life.
Cooking them into a syrupy compote makes them even more delicious, especially one flavored with star anise and pastis. The dried, flower-shaped seed, along with the French aperitif lend a sophisticated licorice-like flavor. It’s a taste of Provence that you’ll want to spoon over ice cream, Greek yogurt, oatmeal or toasted pound cake. Or accent a cheese plate with alongside candied walnuts.
Making the compote with a precision cooker means you can just stick all of the ingredients in a vacuum-sealed bag and forget about it rather than having to constantly stir it on the stovetop to ensure it doesn’t stick or burn.
Thankfully, figs have two seasons a year – early summer, and then late-summer into early fall. That means twice the time to enjoy this wonderful compote.
Carolyn Jung is a James Beard Award-winning Bay Area food journalist, whose work has appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Every Day with Rachael Ray, Coastal Living, Via magazine, Food Arts, Edible Silicon Valley, Wine Spectator and other publications. She is the former staff food writer for the San Jose Mercury News. Her debut cookbook "San Francisco Chef's Table'' published in December 2013. She is also the creator of the acclaimed blog, FoodGal.com.