Celebrate fig season with the easiest, creamiest homemade ice cream you've ever tasted

Never enjoyed a fresh fig? It's time to change that

By Bibi Hutchings


Published June 29, 2023 2:30PM (EDT)

Fresh Figs (Getty Images/kajakiki)
Fresh Figs (Getty Images/kajakiki)

In "Bibi's Gulf Coast Kitchen," columnist Bibi Hutchings takes you on a culinary journey across the coastal south. Come for the great food writing, stay for the delicious recipes.

One of the best things about the month of July is fresh figs. I look forward to them all year like a child does Christmas. With the hot weather being nearly unbearable, it's nice to have something about which to get excited. 

I was nearly thirty years old before I ever tasted what is now one of my most favorite things: a fresh fig. It wasn't until I visited a friend one summer in Munich that I ever tried one. She had previously lived in Greece, where figs are native and grow in abundance and she introduced me to them. I couldn't believe what I had been missing. We ate our way through countless baskets of them that summer — and I have had an addiction ever since. 

Once picked, figs don't continue to ripen or keep well. You have to pluck them from the tree at their peak and enjoy them during the few days they last, which I have absolutely no problem doing. Of course, you can save them by canning them (making them into preserves) or freezing them to add to a smoothie, but there is nothing like a fresh, ripe fig picked from the tree still warm from the sun. It is one of nature's finest gifts. 

Unlike dried figs whose sugars become concentrated during the drying process, fresh figs are delicate and only mildly sweet with a faint taste of honey. They are shaped like fat teardrops and range in color from green to maroon to a dark, almost black, shade of purple. The flesh inside can be a yellowish-pink or a vibrant pinky-red with tiny edible seeds that create an amazing texture. If you have never tasted one, you have seriously missed out. 

I grew up with fig trees at my grandparents' house in Oxford, Mississippi, but for some reason, no one ate them raw, at least not that I recall. Grammy, my dad's mother, made them into preserves, which were delicious, but I can't believe we never ate them right off her trees. I'm still mad I missed out on them for all those years.  

These days, I get my fix of fresh figs from John and Elsie, a retired couple who have an impressive garden only a mile or two up the road from where I live. They see me at least once a week once they hang their FIGS sign out by the road and I can hardly make it home without devouring nearly half of what I've purchased.

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Both of these recipes are old favorites, but could not be more different. Fresh Fig Ice Cream is rich, delicious and tastes incredibly indulgent, whereas Fresh Figs with Honey and Black Pepper is lighter and satisfies your sweet tooth in a fresher, cleaner sort of way. 

Fresh Fig Ice Cream is straightforward and I make it the same way every time, but when I make Fresh Figs with Honey and Black Pepper, I most often create a mixed platter using a variety of cheeses and nut/seed butters. After halving the figs, I top some with soft goat cheese, whipped feta or even bleu cheese and on other halves, I use non-dairy options like raw coconut butter (one of my favorites) as well as different nut and seed butters like walnut, almond, cashew, sunflower seed or pumpkin seed butter. Every variation is blissfully delicious and can serve as an appetizer or a dessert. 

Fig season never lasts long enough for me, but some years it can be even shorter than usual thanks to our summer rains. Fig trees don't like to drink while they fruit. In their native Mediterranean climates, it doesn't rain in the summer and the plants' deep roots like it that way. Here in Baldwin County, it is nothing to get a "pop-up" storm that pours down several inches (or more) of rain in what seems like a flash. That extra water causes delicate figs to split and once split, they are ruined. 

Fig season reminds me to seize the day! Find the joy, love and excitement that's embedded in everyday life because you never know what tomorrow may bring.  

Fresh fig ice cream
8-12 servings
Prep Time
20 minutes (plus freezing time)
Cook Time
05 minutes


2 cups heavy cream

2 cups milk

6 large eggs, separated

1 cup sugar

1 quart fresh figs, mashed*

2 tablespoons sherry

1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract



  1. Combine cream and milk in a saucepan and scald (bring to 180 degrees).

  2. Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly.

  3. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks. Beat egg yolks and sugar until light. 

  4. Stirring constantly, pour hot milk over sugar-egg yolk mixture.

  5. Fold in egg whites and mix thoroughly. 

  6. Add sherry and vanilla then mashed figs and freeze.

Cook's Notes

-The skin of early season figs is thin and delicate, so no need to peel just snip off the stem. Late season figs can have thicker, tougher skin and should be removed before mashing. All is edible; it is simply a matter of preference.

Fresh Figs with Honey and Black Pepper
Prep Time
5 minutes


Fresh figs with stems removed

Spread(s) of choice: soft goat cheese, softened blue cheese, labneh, raw coconut butter or any kind of nut/seed butter. (Large walnut halves can also be used in place of spread) 

Raw honey

Fresh ground black pepper



  1. Slice figs in half lengthwise and spread with cheese, butter of choice or walnut half. 

  2. Drizzle with honey and a sprinkle of pepper. 

  3. Arrange on a serving platter. 

By Bibi Hutchings

Bibi Hutchings, a lifelong Southerner, lives along a quiet coastal Alabama bay with her cat, Zulu, and husband, Tom. She writes about the magical way food evokes memories, instantly bringing you back to the people, places and experiences of your life. Her stories take you all around the South and are accompanied with tried-and-true recipes that are destined to become a part of your memory-making as you share them with your friends and family.         

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Appetizer Cooking Dessert Figs Food Fresh Produce Ice Cream Starter Summer