8 Jun 2010

Fantastic Figs

Euphorbia labatiiImage via Wikipedia
There 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   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


Marion said...

Those nutty fig bits are delicious...I made them for Christmas one year. Fresh figs are my favourite, but do you remember those fig bars they sold? I'm not sure if they still sell them, but when I was young those were my favourite bar!

Mihl said...

Every year I can't wait both for straberry and fig season. I love them both dried and fresh.

Scotty said...

i haven't been by in a while but i love your new blog layout--fantastico!

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Kath Lockett said...

Those recipes all sound delicious and I've learned something today - that figs belong to the ficus family.

urban vegan said...

Viva figs. Fresh or dried, I can't get enough. Lots of Italian-American immigrants in Philadelphia planted fig trees in their tiny. city backyards--so they are very popular here.

Joanna said...

I have never tried figs, are the outside of them hard and what fruit can you compare the taste to? I am a picky eater and I am nervous to try new things.

Jackie said...

Joanna the skins are not hard and you can eat them. They have their own special flavour.

Thanks Scotty, I have to thank Blogger for the new designs they have given us :)

Marion, we get a dried fig and sugar bar (mebos) here which is great.

Mihl and Dynise, most the fresh figs here are imported so they pop up here and there. Was so much nicer when I had a fig tree and I am jealous of those who have them :)

Thanks veghunter and Kath.

urban vegan said...

Fresh figs are amazing. There are many Italian immigrants here in Philly, and when they came here, many of them bought row homes and immediately planted a fig tree in the tiny back yards. So many houses in South Philly come with their very own fig trees!

Kady said...

Wow, I’m so pleased to have discovered this blog! The info on figs and the recipes are wonderful. Thanks so much!

Mar Francis said...

Fig is not available in the Philippines but I tried it here in Middle East and my Sudanese friend told me that it is abundant in their country.

I like the taste and it is very soft to eat. Dried Fig are also delicious.

Ms. JM said...

This looks so delicious. I will have to pass on the almonds, because I'm allergic. Everything else already has my mouth watering. Thanks for the recipe I look forward to making it.

Che said...

wow! looks delicious! i wish i was a better cook! haha