Summer heat and summer produce arrive early in Southwest Georgia! My father always planted a garden full of vegetables and the family land had numerous fruit trees as well. With all of this bounty, there was a lot of canning, pickling and preserving happening.
My Mimi spent most of the summer with me and one of our favorite things to do was to pick figs. The moment the figs were ready for picking, Mimi and I would head out early morning to beat the heat. We had two buckets, one for really ripe figs that would become preserves and one for less ripe figs, which were made into fig pickles! If you have never heard of fig pickles, you are definitely not the only one. Rarely, have I ever told anyone about my Mimi’s fig pickles and heard “Oh yeah, I grew up eating fig pickles.” All you really need to know is they are delicious!
My Mimi fascinated me with the way she could grab the figs with just a feel and tell if they were a “preserve fig” or a “pickle fig.” Once her hand touched the fruit, it was tossed into the proper bucket. She would pick ten figs for every one of mine, however, my speed improved over the years. In addition, I have perfected her wonderful fig pickles.
Those summer evenings telling stories and laughing around the dinner table are some of my fondest memories – as well as the food. The table was overflowing with bowls of vegetables fresh from the garden, cobblers or pies made with fruit from the trees, mother’s fried chicken and a big jar of Mimi’s fig pickles. It was a celebration without an occasion or a holiday; none the less a celebration.