Image via WikipediaThere is nothing nicer than a fresh, organic, wonderfully sweet fig. Sadly they are not available all year round, so the next best option are dried figs. Figs are very nutritious, great for your health, and can be added to both sweet and savoury dishes.
Figs are the fruit of the Ficus tree, which is a member of the Mulberry family. They can be traced thousands of years ago to Egypt and later to Greece and Rome where they were held in high esteem. Spanish missionaries introduced them to the Americas. Figs come in many varieties and colours, like the pale green/yellow Calimyma with amber flesh, the dark purple Mission with pink flesh and the green Adriatic with tan flesh.
They are a very healthy fruit to add to your five-a-day, whether they are fresh or dried. They are a good source of soluble and insoluble dietary fiber, potassium, manganese, iron, vitamin B6 and calcium. Figs are low in sodium but high in fruit sugars. Internally figs' potassium helps to control blood pressure, their fiber content is a good weight management aid and also relieves constipation, their calcium helps to promote good bone density and drinking fig juice helps to soothe irritated bronchial passages.. Externally the juice of green figs is said to soften corns, reduce skin pigmentation, and relieve many other skin problems. Fig leaves are said to help diabetic patients reduce their amount of insulin intake.
Note : Figs contain measurable amounts of oxalates. Therefore individuals with kidney or gallbladder problems may want to avoid eating figs.
Fresh Figs are very perishable so only purchase what you intend eating in a few days. Store figs in the fridge. They can also be frozen. Freeze individually then store in a plastic container in the freezer for up to 3 months. Freezing will change the texture and the figs will be much softer when thawed, but will still be very tasty. Some people like to dehydrate any excess figs rather than buy commercially dried figs. If buying commercially dried figs, look for those that are organic, sun-dried, and which have no added sulphites.
Figs are in season in the North at the moment, so those lucky enough to see them in your local shops, pop a few in your basket and enjoy a very tasty treat.
There was an Old Person of Ischia,
Whose conduct grew friskier and friskier;
He danced hornpipes and jigs,
and ate thousands of figs,
That lively Old Person of Ischia.
Edward Lear (1812-1888)
Fig and Mint Salad
From About.com By Jolinda Hackett,
This unusual combination of figs and fresh mint makes for an unusual raw food salad ~ Jolinda
handful of fresh strawberries, sliced
6 fresh figs, sliced
2 tbsp agave nectar
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
Toss together all ingredients in a large bowl until fruits are well coated. Enjoy!
Nutty Fig Bites
20 dried figs
1 cup pecans or peanuts
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/3 cup peanut butter
finely chopped peanuts
In a food processor, place the figs, pecans, raisins, and cinnamon, and process for 1 minute to combine. Add the peanut butter and pulse a few times to combine. Using your hands, roll the mixture into 1-inch balls, and then roll the balls in the finely chopped peanuts. Store in an airtight container. Yield: 2 Dozen
Fresh Fig and Rose Smoothie
From the Chocolate and Zucchini blog.
6 ripe black figs (about 250gms/9ozs)
2 or 3 large oranges (about 250 ml / 1 cup juice)
2 tsps rose water, plus more to taste
Remove the very tip of the fig stems and quarter the figs. Juice the oranges. Combine the quartered figs, orange juice, and rose water in a blender, and whizz until smooth. Taste, and add a little more rose water if desired. Serves 2
Marinated Green Bean Salad with Dried Figs, Almonds and Olive Vinaigrette
From California Figs Created by The Chef's Table Restaurant, Fresno, CA
1 shallot, white part only, minced
2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tbsps balsamic vinegar
6 tbsps virgin olive oil
1/4 cup pitted mixed ripe and green olives, chopped fine
2 cups fresh green beans, trimmed, cut crosswise in 1/2-inch length, and blanched
6 dried California figs, diced 1/4-inch
4 tbsps sliced almonds, toasted
In large bowl, combine shallot, garlic, vinegar, olive oil and olives; mix well. Add green beans, figs and almonds; toss to coat well. Cover and chill. Divide and serve on lettuce leaves, if desired. Serves: 4