The wonders of Kawajima’s special figs
The figs in this article come from Kawajima, a town in Saitama Prefecture that produces and ships more figs than anywhere else in the prefecture.
Most of Kawajima’s figs are grown using the flat-rod style, where two branches are grown in parallel to the ground. This way the plants get enough air and sun. Kawajima Fig Producers’ Union recommends growing with organic fertilizers is recommended, and sets strict standards to control quality, including the amount of pesticides permitted, as well as the size, color and sweetness level of the figs. Kawajima’s figs are standardized at sweetness level of 13-15, which means very sweet.
We talked to Satoru Kimura, the head of the union, to ask him how to pick out the best figs.
“When they become plump, large and dark red, and their skin taut, that’s when they taste good. You do not let the figs ripen after harvest, so you pick out the ones that are thoroughly ripe, with a good color and aroma,” says Kimura.
Figs bruise easily and do not last long. It is best to finish them quickly. Otherwise, cook them in syrup to make compote or jam.
Fig tartelette, with fresh figs from Kawajima
We asked marimo, a confectionery researcher, to devise a confection that brings out the best of Kawajima’s figs.
“I choose thoroughly colored figs with taut skin. Ripe ones are sweet and delicious. You can enjoy them fresh. If you cook them their green flavor will go, and they become sweeter. You can also caramelize them, cooking a small amount of sugar and water in a fry-pan and adding fig slices. You can make great sweets by just adding them to yogurt,” says marimo.
Apparently, caution is needed when making jelly or mousse with figs, because fresh figs contain enzymes that prevent gelatin from solidifying. It is best to heat figs once to break down the enzymes in advance if you want to make jelly or mousse.
This time we will show you the recipe of a fig tartelette made with highly sweet, seasonal figs. The tartelette is not just tasty but looks cute with a pleasant color.
Tartelette means a small tart made for one person. It will look cuter than a whole large tart. As figs are red inside and perfect for presentation, it is best to cut them and arrange them on top.
“If you place lots of figs, the tartelette will be prettier and tastier, but make sure to keep the arrangement well-balanced. If you want more figs than you can put on the top, you can put slices of figs directly on the plate. That way it will look packed and gorgeous. You might want to arrange some herbs like chervil or mint to make it look professionally made. Please give it a try!”
Why not try your hand at making a confection, using fresh and sweet figs from Kawajima? It will be a great seasonal confection that is not only tasty but pleasing to the eye.
Writer : HITOMI ARATAKI / Photographer : marimo / CHIE MARUYAMA
Source: Satoru Kimura, Head of Kawajima Fig Producers’ Union
From August through to October
Tips for choosing good bitter gourd
・Choose ones that are red right up to the base of the stem
・Choose ones with skin that is not shriveled but is instead taut and elastic
・Best to enjoy them when there are cracks at the end, revealing the flesh
Kawajima Farmers’ Store (JA Saitama Chuo)
* sells the Rice Branded by Kawagoe Clan and figs
|Address||23901, Minami Sonobe,Oaza, Kawajima-cho, Hiki District|
9:30 a.m.–6:00 p.m. from April to September,
9:30 a.m.–5:00 p.m. from October to March
Website for KJ（Kawa Jima） brand
Fig Producers’ Union administrative office (Agricultural Industry Division, Kawajima City Office）
Saitama Prefecture Tourism Information
Confectionery researcher / confectionery hygiene master
Representative Director, marimo cafe, Inc.
After graduating from college, marimo worked for a major printing company while study-ing confectionery through distance learning from an international confectionery school. After taking multiple confectionery classes, she branched out on her own in 2015.
Her activities cover a wide range, from running a confectionery class, developing recipes for companies, providing recipes for books, magazines and websites, to making appear-ances on radio programs. She is also known for her photography skills, submits photos to camera magazines and makes appearances at camera classes and events. Her publications include Cookpad marimo 1016 No Daikohyo Okashi (translation: Cookpad marimo 1016 Popular Sweets, published by Takarajima), 6 Koma Okashi Recipe (translation: Sweets Recipes in Six Steps, published by Wani Books) and marimo café No Shiawase Sweets (translation: marimo café’s Happy Sweets, published by SB Creative).