The parable of the fig tree exists throughout the bible and in other spiritual and fictional works. In Matthew 24:32 it tells us “its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.” Many references of the fig and fig tree are translated over and over and symbolizing many things for many people.
“Figs have a short season in early summer and a main season from late summer until fall. The first crop of the season is called the breba crop, which comes in on the last season’s growth. Spring frost often eradicates the breba crop and the remaining previous season’s growth.
The majority of figs produced arise from the main crop, which are generally not subject to frosty conditions. The sweetest types of figs are Black Mission figs and Adriatic figs, which are commonly used in desserts and paired alongside cheese and fresh fruit. Kadota figs and Brown Turkey figs are not as sweet and are usually used in salads or in recipes that include sweeteners.”
Reference as it may, controversy often prevails over figs…. which tastes better, what to do with the first crop if there is one, and how best to use them. People seem to like them or not, not much in between. Black Mission and Brown Turkey figs seem to be the most common at most markets, but a wide range of figs—including striped Adriatic figs and pale green Kadota figs—is increasingly available fresh. While there are subtle differences in flavor and sweetness level, figs do more or less taste like figs, so there’s no reason to be wary of trying a new variety.
Many people are unaware of this culinary delicacy due to its rarety on the grocery aisle. Black Mission and Brown Turkey figs seem to be the most common at most markets, but a wide range of figs—including striped Adriatic figs and pale green Kadota figs—is increasingly available fresh. While there are subtle differences in flavor and sweetness level, figs do more or less taste like figs, so there’s no reason to be wary of trying a new variety.
Figs are members of the Mulberry family and provide an excellent source of fiber, vitamin B6, copper, manganese, potassium and pantothenic acid. A low intake of potassium-rich foods, especially couple with a high intake of sodium-rich foods (such as processed or fast food), can lead to high blood pressure. Like other fiber-rich foods (apples, dates, pears and prunes), figs are helpful in a weight management program. Each fig has a calorie count of 47, outweighed by its other benefits, which extend to the fig leaf! High in antioxidants, choose fully ripened figs. Dark figs are high in phytonutrients.
Figs are delicate, perishable, hard to transport and available only part of the year: June-through September. Organic dried figs are available year-round, need to be relatively soft, free of mold and have a pleasant smell, and can be substituted in any recipe calling for figs, dates, raisins, and other dried fruits.
Ripe figs should be covered, layered with paper towels to keep them super dry, and used promptly to avoid mold.
USEFUL IDEAS FOR FRESH OR DRIED (Rehydrated) FIGS
Lay whole figs in a single layer on a baking sheet, then freeze in zipper bags up to a year.
Peeling is not necessary, and go well in any baked cake, muffin, cookie, jam chutneys.
Wash right before eating. Keep chilled in refrigerator.
Use as any fresh fruit, with breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Especially sweet due to sugar content – add to any dessert dish, or even meat sauces.
Add sugar, rum or brandy to mashed figs and serve with vanilla ice cream.
Add instant pizzazz to morning cereal with chopped figs and honey.
Skewer figs and alternate with chicken or pork on the grill.
Carmelize onions and mix with figs into any salad mix, pizza, or pasta.
Wrap with prosciutto for a classy hors d’oeuvre.
Spread halves with goat cheese or mascarpone and crown your primavera recipe.
For more super-easy yet utterly delicious ways to make tasty use of fresh figs, see 10 Quick Fig Recipes (these honey-fried figs are a personal favorite, while these bacon-wrapped figs tend to disappear in an instant at a party). See next blog article: Glorious Fig Recipes.