Sunday, 13 September 2009


The best wild fruit to be found around Aspiran is figs. They beat mulberries for diversity and speed of picking. Sadly apricots et al don’t seem to grow wild here. Quinces are insect riddled and pomegranates seriously seedy.

There are quite a few fig trees about, although many seemingly produce nothing or fruit that rots before it ripens. Edible figs are around from July to October and these six varieties were found on lane side trees within 3 Kms of the village in mid-September. Despite a book on figs and of course Internet searches, identifying species from pictures is challenging as appearance depends on the degree of ripeness; all figs start off a soft green colour. A visit to an arboretum of fig trees down the road at Nézignan-l'Évêque last year raised more doubts than answers on identification.

The bounty

The green ochre specimins on the top right could well be the Marseillaise variety and they’re delicious but prone to fermenting quickly when ripe (hours not days) so don't keep. The large ones on the bottom left match Madeleine des Deux Saisons characteristics because of their size and unbeatable sweet succulent eating. The grey cinder coloured figs top-centre look like photos of Grise de Saint-Jean and are also amazingly sweet. The central lime-green ones are harder to identify but I'll go for Sucre Vert as the trees are large and incredibly productive. They're also the last to ripen and go on producing the latest. With a slightly less sweet taste plus the quantity to be had they make fine jam.

The deep purple ones at the front could be one of several varieties, while the marble sized pile to their right are probably from a particularly water stressed tree. Either way, these noir varieties dry without fermenting making concentrated sweets to keep, if that's possible.

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