What's in season: Appearing for just a few short weeks during summer, fig season is short but prized. While there are many varieties of figs, the fruit — actually, a fig is an inverted flower — can be divided into two classes: green and black. Here in California, black figs, including smaller Mission and larger, paler Brown Turkey, are most often eaten fresh, as they're generally sweeter and have a more pronounced flavor. Green figs such as Adriatic and Tiger are also prized for their fresh flavor, while Kadota, the most common green fig, has a thicker skin with an often bland flavor, and is best saved for drying or canning.
What to cook: Fresh or dried, figs have a distinctive crunch, owing to the many seeds trapped in the center. Ripe, flavorful figs are best enjoyed fresh as a quick snack, chopped and added to salads or used as a garnish. Throw them on the grill, charring the sugar in fresh figs for caramelized notes and deeper flavor. Figs also work well in jams or as a quick summer pickle. Use dried figs in quick breads and other baked goods.