Freezing tipsGeorgia Master Gardener Dick Whelan freezes his figs foryear-round enjoyment.”This is prime fig time, so today I have too many to eat. So Iwash them, towel them dry and store them in the freezer inzip-locked bags,” he said. “Now, when I want figs in the morning, Itake out a couple and let them defrost while I’m preparing therest of my breakfast. This way I can enjoy fresh figs all fall.”University of Georgia Cooperative Extension specialist JudyHarrison recommends tray packing when freezing figs. To traypack, place clean figs on a tray and then place the tray in thefreezer.”Once they’re frozen, you can store them together in bags in thefreezer,” Harrison said. “This way the figs don’t stick togetherand you can easily defrost them two or three at a time.”Harrison also recommends treating the figs with ascorbic acid toprevent them from losing their fresh color.To treat figs, dissolve three-fourths of a teaspoon of ascorbicacid in 3 tablespoons of water. Sprinkle the mixture over 1 quartof figs before tray packing.”You can also use an antidarkening treatment like Fruit Fresh orother commercial brands,” she said. “Just follow the packagedirections.”Canning and preserving recipes and safe storage tips for figs andother fresh fruits and vegetables can be found at the NationalCenter for HomeFood Preservation’s Web site(www.homefoodpreservation.com). Add a fig tree to your landscapeIf you’d like to add a fig tree to your home landscape, UGAExtension experts warn that only a few varieties are well-adaptedto Georgia.If you live in the mountains, select a protected site and tryCeleste or Hardy Chicago. Some varieties such as Brown Turkeywill produce some figs on the current season’s growth after beingkilled to the ground by a freeze.In Georgia’s piedmont, Celeste, Hardy Chicago and Conadria arefairly well-adapted. South of the fall line, many varieties canbe grown, but Celeste and Conadria are two of the best. If youwant to extend the season with a late-ripening variety, plantAlma.There is considerable confusion about fig variety names, so UGAExtension specialists recommend ordering plants only fromreputable nurseries in the Southeast.Make sure the variety you select is suited for Georgia’s climate.Never buy or try to grow the kinds of figs grown in California.UGA experts say they require pollination by a tiny wasp thatcan’t survive in Georgia’s climate.The fig varieties recommended for Georgia are the common onesthat produce only female flowers and set fruit withoutcross-pollination. By Sharon OmahenUniversity of GeorgiaGeorgians may have to wait a year to pick fresh Georgiastrawberries and blueberries, but if figs suit your fancy, it’sprime picking time.”Figs are one of the earliest fruits cultivated by man,” said C.B. Christian, fig lover and northeastdirector of the GeorgiaMaster Gardeners Association. “In Georgia, the primeharvestingseason for fresh figs is mid-June to mid-October, so we’re in theheart of the season.”Pick when ripeIf you share Christian’s love of figs, he offers the followingharvesting tips to ensure the best-tasting fruit.”Figs must be picked ripe from the tree, as they don’t ripen wellonce picked,” he said. “A very firm fig is not ripe and will notproperly ripen further.”On the downside, figs have a very short shelf life, he said. Youshould eat or freeze them within seven to 10 days of harvesting.”In most cases, this means you have about three days at most touse them at home,” Christian said.Members of the genus Ficus and the family Moraceae (the mulberryfamily), figs can be used in a variety of ways, from preserves todeserts.