Figs have an oval or squat pear shape, and thin skin that encloses hundreds of seeds (actually miniature fruits themselves) held in a succulent, softly fibrous red or purple flesh. Figs are very delicate and need gentle handling. Great raw, in salads, poached or grilled. You can also buy them dried.
How to Select
Go for plump examples that feel soft (but not too liquid) with no bruising or splits. At the peak of their ripeness they will have a faint bloom. If they smell sour, they're past their best.
How to Store
If you buy slightly under-ripe figs, keep outside the fridge to ripen up. Otherwise, store in the fridge, each one loosely wrapped in kitchen paper. Figs perish very quickly, so eat within one or two days of buying.
How to Prepare
Gently wipe the skins with a damp cloth, trim off the stem if it's hard, then either keep whole or cut in half from top to bottom. Alternatively, you can make a fig 'flower'. Make a deep cross at the top end of the fig, cutting almost but not all of the way through. Then squeeze at the base with your fingers - the four quarters should open out like petals. Figs are best at room temperature, so take them out of the fridge an hour before you eat them.