THE FOOD SERIES: Figs

Definitely has become one of my favourite fruits, especially since we grow it in our backyard! So blessed. There’s nothing like watching friends try fresh figs for the first time. So priceless.

DESCRIPTION:

Figs grow on the Ficus tree which is part of the Mulberry family. They have an interesting opening, called “ostiole” or “eye” which is not directly connected to the tree but is part of the development of the fruit, such as through communication with its surrounding environment.

There are many varieties ranging in various colours. Varieties range in terms of their skin colour, their flesh colour, as well as their size. Some of the most popular varieties include:

  • Black Mission (which are blackish-purple with a pink coloured flesh)
  • Kadota (green skin with purple flesh)
  • Calimyrna (greenish-yellow skin with amber flesh)
  • Brown Turkey (purple skin with red flesh)
  • Adriatic (light green skin with pinkish-tan flesh)

In terms of taste, figs are sweet, juicy and offer different flavours as well. From raspberry, maple syrup, caramel, honey and almond. Some varieties tend to be more fruity and zesty while others are more nutty and more coffee/caramel like.

When purchasing fresh figs, look for figs that are rich and deep in colour. They should look plump and tender, but not mushy and bruised. Figs are best eaten when ripe in which they are firm yet tender. If you smell them, they should be sweet and fragrant and not sour. Once purchased, they should be consumed within a couple of days as they are quick to perish.

PRODUCTION:

Figs have been traced back in history with mentions in the Bible and other ancient works. Figs were known to be a sacred and treasured fruit in ancient Greece and Rome. They were initially cultivated throughout the Middle East, and Europe before reaching towards England and China. They thrive in warm, dry climates. Today, Turkey is the leading producer of figs, followed by Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Iran and Syria. While in the United States, California leads the production.

NUTRITIONAL PROFILE:

One medium fig:

37.0 kcal
9.6 g carbs
1.5 g fiber
0.2 g fat
0.4 g protein
0.1 mg vitamin B6
116.0 mg potassium
0.1 mg manganese
0.2 mg pantothenic acid

Keep in mind, the nutritional profile is only for ONE medium sized fruit. I know I definitely would not be able to eat just one :P.

Being a good source of potassium, figs may help control blood pressure. Today many people are at risk of potassium deficiency, due to low intake of potassium-rich foods, and high intake of sodium; this can lead to hypertension or high blood pressure. Figs are also high in fibre (fruit and cereal fibre) which is not only good for digestion, but have been found to be protective against postmenopausal breast cancer. Additionally, both dried and fresh figs offer powerful antioxidants that help your body against free radicals and fight disease.

Beyond the fruit itself, some cultures use fig leaves to provide additional benefits. The leaves have been found to help regulate blood sugar by reducing the amount of insulin needed in diabetic individuals. The leaves have also been used as a way to overcome bad breathe, to tackle ulcers, as well as to rid of sore throats! 

WAYS TO ENJOY

Fig season is quite limited, therefore when I can get my hands on fresh figs, I love just enjoying them as they are: fresh and delicious. It is my version of candy.

As a topping

Whether fresh or dried, figs provide for a delicious topping to any meal. Decorate your bars, muffins, cakes, or other goods with figs for that extra texture, crunch and sweetness. Chop some into your salad, or add it into your morning porridge.

Fig bars

Due to its rather intense sweetness, especially when dried. Figs have long been used as an ingredient to make fig bars. Try this RECIPE of Fig Newtons by the Minimalist Baker.

Substitute for dates

You all know how much I love dates, but unfortunately not everyone shares the same love. As a result, try using figs as a sweetener ingredient instead. It definitely will offer a different taste and texture for sure but give it try. For a deliciously sweet dessert try this Vegan Fig Chocolate Mousse Recipe!

FUN FACTS

  • Figs are known as “fruit of the gods”
  • Fig trees have no blossoms on their branches. Instead, the blossom is inside of the fruit. The many tiny flowers inside the fruit are the edible seeds that provide figs their unique texture and crunch.
  • Figs have 55% natural sugar content, making them the sweetest of all fruits!
  • Figs rely on wasps to get fertilized. Each species of fig has evolved with its own species of pollination fig wasp.
  • Dried figs are sometimes roasted and ground as a coffee substitute, or converted into alcohol as a liqueur flavouring.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES / REFERENCES 

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