As the old saying goes, good things come to those who wait. The classic expression holds true for the 2011 California fresh fig season. Late season rains caused a slight delay to the much anticipated availability of California fresh figs, but fig farmers are reporting that the main crop harvest is underway now and fresh figs grown in California will be plentiful until mid-December.

California Fig growers report excellent quality with full flavor across all varieties and encourage consumers to enjoy them all – Black Mission, Brown Turkey, Calimyrna, Kadota and Sierra. In a year being celebrated by the California fig industry as the "Year of the Fig," these luscious-addictive-succulent fresh California Figs are the reason chefs and consumers are enthusiastic for the fruit.

"We are thrilled to see excitement for the fig beyond the classic, delicious Newton," says Karla Stockli, Chief Executive Officer, California Fresh Fig Growers Association. "California figs are world renowned for their versatility and unique flavor and have been treasured by the culinary elite for years. Because of the strong affinity among top chefs, along with an increasingly sophisticated consumer palate and a continued quest for great tasting, good-for-you food, we are seeing an increased demand for figs – and California fig farmers are delighted to provide."

With fruit now available in stores, California fig farmers offer the following tips as a reminder when purchasing figs, including:

Look for the softest figs; a soft texture indicates the fruit is ready to consume immediately.
Don't be concerned about small slits or tears in the skin as long as the fig has a fresh aroma.
Fresh figs are delicate. Handle gently.
Keep figs in the refrigerator for as long as five to seven days.
Too many to eat right away? Just rinse and freeze. Simply arrange in a single layer on a pan and put in the freezer. Transfer frozen figs to a sealed plastic bag, where they can be kept in the freezer for up to six months.
Avoid figs with a fermentation odor; it indicates that the fruit is overripe.