Fig Rich

I will be honest, I did not know much about figs until this blog.

I knew they were delicious! I knew they had decent fiber and fairly high natural sugars… but that’s about it. So when I was given the opportunity to explore with fresh figs, I happily took advantage.

In short, a family gathering of which a family member has a fig trees means I was sent home with almost 20 fresh, very ripe, green and purple figs. Like many of my food adventures, the best way I have found to learn a new food is to dive in! Making lemonade from lemons as the saying goes… (although figs are much sweeter to start).


IMG_5105Searching for information on fresh figs led me to many new discoveries. Coulis, for example, is not a culinary term I was previously familiar with. Now I know, by definition courtesy of Wikipedia, a coulis is a form of thick sauce made from puréed and strained vegetables or fruits. A vegetable coulis is commonly used on meat and vegetable dishes, and it can also be used as a base for soups or other sauces.” See below for my fig coulis recipe!


Also, I now have the pleasure to share with you these fun facts on figs:

  • Figs are OLD, originating back to 5,000 BC, in Asia.
  • There are at least 18 different varieties of figs.
  • Over the many years of their existence figs have been used for a variety of purposes including: fertility, an aid in digestion, to quit smoking, as a humectant for freshness, to treat diseases of skin pigmentation, and I believe fig leaves where the first clothing used by mankind, according to the bible.
  • Figs grown on a tree. These trees flourish in sunny, dry regions and can be anywhere from 10 to 50 feet tall when planted in the ground (smaller if kept in a pot).
  • Anyone can keep a fig tree if tended to with adequate sun, warmth and nitrogen rich soil; large indoor/outdoor pots will suffice. Often when fig trees are contained they will appear more like a bush than a tree, with wide, outward growing branches.
  • As mentioned above, as a fruit, figs have a high fiber and natural sugar content, but they also have decent levels of minerals potassium, magnesium, calcium and iron. Per the nature of most fruits, figs have no fat or cholesterol.
If you decide you would like to grow figs, I suggest consulting more in-depth information than my brief sinopsis here, such as found at the California Rare Fruit Growers website, link below.

The recipes I modified after some “research” online, and of which are outlined below, include: fig coulis (as mentioned above), fig coulis bruschetta, fig jam, and fig and cherry cake. For aesthetic pleasure a fresh garden salad with figs, grilled figs and yogurt with figs.

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Fig Coulis

  • 6 ripe, fresh figs, cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar (I used aged spicy mango balsamic)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (I used lemon olive oil)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Add all ingredients to a food processor or blender and blend until smooth. Store in airtight jars; keeps in the refrigerator for a few months, or freeze for longer storage. Use as a sauce on meats, poultry or fish, or as a dip or spread with cheese, crackers, or veggies.

I have used mine as a salad dressing, to bake with, as well as to make bruschetta with fresh cherry tomatoes, watermelon and parsley, pictured below.

Fig Jam

  • 3 ripe, fresh figs, cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ teaspoon lemon extract (or 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice)
  • ⅛ cup water

Put first three ingredients into small saucepan on medium heat and bring to a low boil, turn down heat, add water, stir and let cook for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool 5 minutes before pouring into airtight jars. Jam will store in the refrigerator for several months, or freeze for longer storage.

Fig and Cherry Cake

  • 4 ripe, fresh figs; 3 cut into chunks for the fillings, 1 sliced for the top
  • 1 cup cherries, fresh and pitied, sliced in half; ⅔ for the filling, ⅓ for the top.
  • 3 eggs
  • ⅔ cup honey
  • ¾ stick butter, melted
  • 1 ½ cups unbleached flour (whole or white pastry)
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash of salt

Cream the honey and butter with mixer in medium bowl. Add the eggs and blend again. Add remaining ingredients except the sliced fig and cherries reserved for the top, blend until smooth. Greece the bottom of a springform pan and dust with flour. Pour batter into pan and spread evening. Decorate the top of the cake with the remaining figs and cherries, pressing them lightly into the batter. Turn oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, place pan on the bottom rack of oven and let cook for 35 minutes. Move pan to top rack of oven and cook another 20 minutes, until golden brown on top and a knife comes out clean when inserted towards the edge of the cake. Let cool for 20 minutes before removing springform and enjoying!

We ate ours with lemon gelato and it was AMAZING!

 

After trying all of these recipes, slicing and dicing many plump, juicy figs, I have to say that my favorite way to eat them is straight up- raw and sweet!

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Resources:

US Davis Fruit & Nut Research & Information, onine at http://fruitsandnuts.ucdavis.edu/dsadditions/Fig_Fact_Sheet/

California Rare Fruit Growers, online at https://www.crfg.org/pubs/ff/fig.html

Valley Fig Growers, Fresno, California, online at http://www.valleyfig.com/about-us

California Figs, online at https://www.californiafigs.com/index.php?pageid=11

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