Desert King Fig: It’s big, green, sweet and easy to grow.
There’s nothing like a fresh fig, especially if perfectly ripe and dripping with nectar (see blossom end of above photo). And of all the figs you can grow in the Pacific Northwest, Desert King (a name that belies its happy habit in a cool climate) is one of the earliest and least fussy varieties I know of. It ripens about the first week of August, but you have to act quickly as they all seem to ripen en masse within a week to ten days. If you wait too long to pick them, the birds will make an easy breakfast, lunch and dinner of them.
Desert King figs before their brief encounter with sweet cream and shortbread cookies
It’s most entertaining to feed a fresh fig to an unfamiliar diner. It’s a texture, consistency, and wallop of sweetness not duplicated in any fruit. Most fresh fig neophytes take pause before making some odd faces. One of my favorite recipes for fresh figs is the cheesy fig bomb. (What’s not to like: figs stuffed with goat cheese wrapped in bacon and broiled. Was that an angel I heard singing?) Whether you enlist these juicy gems for sweet, savory or fresh eating, the Desert King fig is a reliable choice for the home orchard. Saveur.com has some nice fig recipes, too, but chances are you’ll never look at fig newton the same way again.