Peak Season: Black Mission Figs

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Photograph courtesy Flickr/Lara604

With wrinkled purple skin and moist flesh the color of watermelon, black mission figs are bursting (sometimes literally) from market stands come late summer. Their history mirrors that of our state—the name comes from the San Diego Mission, which was cultivating black figs in the 18th century—and they go from sweet to savory preparations without missing a beat. “I braise figs in a mix of spices, orange peel, and a Spanish wine,” says pastry chef Karen Hatfield of Hatfield’s. “Then I reduce the liquid and use it for all kinds of things: spooned on top of my goat’s milk panna cotta or combined with raspberries and sandwiched between hot shortcakes.”