November 1st through the 7th is national fig week. Figs are one of the healthiest flowers around. Yes, flowers, figs are actually just flowers that have been inverted.
More on The Fig…You can get it dried almost anywhere in the world and fresh and luscious from September through to autumn.
There is nought like the taste of fresh figs and dried they are different but sweet, with chewy flesh and crunchy edible seeds.
Figs start off as an enclosed inverted flower. The shape of their flower inhibits them from relying on bees or wind to spread their pollen in the same way other flowers can. Instead, figs must rely on the help of pollinator wasps to reproduce.
Nearing the end of her life, a female wasp will crawl through the tiny opening of the inverted fig flower to lay her eggs. She will break off her antennas and wings in the process, dying shortly afterwards.
The wasp’s body is then digested by an enzyme within the fig, while her eggs prepare to hatch. Once they do, male larvae mate with female larvae, which then crawl out of the fig, with pollen attached to their bodies, to continue both species lifecycle.
This is where some controversy creeps in...Some followers of veganism profess that as figs are a product of a wasps death then this fruit should not be considered vegan…however common sense prevails in most cases and it is seen as a symbiotic relationship that allows both species to survive.
Figs are sweet with chewy flesh, smooth skin and crunchy edible seeds. They are also one of the only fruits to ripen on the tree.
Did you know? Fig puree can replace fat/sugar in baked goods? Well neither did I until fairly recently a fig puree can be used as a sugar and fat substitution.
Just combine 8 ounces of fresh figs and 1/4 -1/3 cup of water in a blender; puree until smooth. If using dried figs, soak figs in water until softened before pureeing. Use as you would applesauce in baked recipes, as a substitution for both fat and sugar. Replace up to half the fat in a recipe with fig puree, and reduce or eliminate the sugar required.
Or use the puree as a spread over toast and fruits; or thin it out with more water and use as a liquid sweetener for coffee, drinks and in place of honey or maple syrup in your recipes.
The fig is also a great source of fibre, vitamins and minerals. It has Vitamin A, B1, and B2…. 3 figs have 5 gm of fibre..so if you are not careful you could if you eat too many figs end up with the “back door trots”. This is an old English saying just in case you were wondering.
In the Indian sub-continent, it is made into a soothing, calming salve which if applied by a topical application it can provide relief to Venereal Disease. Although more research needs to be done to prove its effectiveness.
The Spaniards introduced figs to California in the early 16th century. The priests who lived in San Diego at the “Mission” originally planted the figs and the dark purple figs became known as Mission figs.
Native to the Middle East and western Asia the fig tree Ficus Carica is also a symbol of abundance, fertility and sweetness cultivated since ancient times it is mentioned many times in the bible and probably why many also believe that it was not apples in the garden of Eden but figs which tempted Adam and Eve. Now that is a thought.
Figs made their first commercial product appearance with the 1982 introduction of Fig Newtons cookies…I just love fig bars.
Did you know that eating one-half a cup of figs has as much calcium as drinking half a cup of milk?
Figs also go wonderfully with blue cheese and wrapped in parma ham they are to die for. Just saying…
The Fig like lots of herbs, fruits and vegetables we eat have amazing healing properties and I think we should look at what we have growing naturally in our beautiful world instead of buying all these ready-made processed foods which are not even convenient most of the time and full of nasties…
Here endeth the sermon…
This fig sauce is lovely over duck breasts or chicken.
- 12 dried black figs with the stems trimmed off.
- 1 1/2 cups of fresh chicken stock
- 2 sliced mushrooms
- 1 tbsp butter
- 2 cloves of garlic finely chopped
- 2 tbsp brandy
- 1 sprig of rosemary although I will admit to adding a bit more…
- Salt and pepper to Taste
- Fresh Figs (optional)
In a small saucepan cook the black figs in the chicken stock for about 10 minutes until soft, remove from the stock and chop finely and return to the stock. Set to one side.
In a small pan melt the butter and add the finely chopped garlic and mushrooms cook for 30 secs don’t allow to burn as garlic catches quite quickly. Add the brandy and simmer for 1 minute. Add rosemary sprig and fig stock and fresh figs (if using) simmer for 3 minutes until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
Just serve over your sliced duck breasts it is a lovely rich sauce and nice for that special occasion.
If fresh figs are in season then they are lovely served with the duck breast…
As it is National Fig week I am going to have a go at making “Fig Newtons” or Fig Bars as I have always known them as…
Has anyone got a tried and tested recipe for these lovely cake bars? If you have please share xx