This year, California is expected to experience the largest fig crop in recent history. The harvest season, which runs from June 10 until Oct. 15, is expected to yield an abundance of this under-recognized fruit, which will be used in jams, muffins and even Fig Newtons. Here's some fig trivia to consider:

For many years, figs have been used in coffee substitutes.

Figs satisfy a sweet tooth because they contain about 60 percent sugar, but contain no cholesterol, fat or sodium.

Figs provide 20 percent of the daily recommended amount of fiber and have the highest overall mineral content of all common fruit. In a 40-gram serving, there are 244 milligrams of potassium, 53 milligrams of calcium and 1.2 milligrams of iron.

The white juice that drips out of the fruit when the stalk has been broken off is latex.

Fig trees have no blossoms on their branches. The blossom is the inside of the fruit, where many tiny flowers produce crunchy little seeds that give figs their unique texture.

More information on figs can be found at

Family matters

If you're planning a family reunion, here are some ideas from Cheryl Fall, the author of The Family Reunion Planning Kit for Dummies (Wiley Publishing Inc., 2002), to keep it fun:

Instead of regular invitations, use family photo art and catchy phrases glued to a blank card.

Have a cookout to allow for a variety of foods without the hassle of the kitchen.

Give guests tasks, based on their interests, to get everyone involved.

Encourage the guests to get to know each other. Place serving dishes on different tables so the guests are forced to circulate.

Ask guests in advance to bring their favorite cookout recipe on a card and to create a family cookbook.

Making the cuts

Let Kuhn Rikon's new Piranha Peeler sink its teeth into your fruit and vegetables.

The peeler features a stainless-steel, serrated edge that allows for a paper-thin cut. The handle is covered by nonslip rubber and lets both right- or left-handed cooks peel food comfortably.

The peeler is $7 at

Keeping it clean

As the summer winds down, many will jump at the opportunity to make the most of grilling before it's too late. To avoid greasy, food-crusted grates, try Disposable Grill Liners by Clean BBQ. Simply place the grill liner over the grill bars, barbecue and throw away the used liner.

A package of 20 is $17.95 at


Learn to make tailgating recipes from noon to 4 p.m. Aug. 20 at the Culinary Arts Center on West Seventh Avenue in York, Pa. $50. For more information or to enroll, call 800-840-1004 or visit

Find out how to cook a three-course meal with beer at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 19 at For the Love of Food, 20 Clarks Lane, Reisterstown. $65. For more information, visit www.fortheloveoffood .com or call 410-833-5579.

The Dish welcomes food news and notes. Send to The Dish, Attn.: Liz Atwood, The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD 21278; fax to 410-783-2519; e-mail

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