Delicious, sweet figs are somewhat unfashionable despite being a renowned fruit since ancient times. Figs, both dried and fresh, have experienced a major resurgence in popularity because people have rediscovered their amazing health benefits for modern diets.
Figs are rich in dietary fiber and are packed with vitamins, phyto-nutrients, minerals and many natural anti-oxidants.
Fresh and dried figs can be eaten raw or eaten in many ways that many people have forgotten about.
This article outlines the many health benefits of figs by summarizing their nutritional data. Comparisons are made with other similar fruits to highlight the benefits.
The many uses of figs are described as well as some background information about this delightful ancient fruit.
The fully ripe fig has bell or pear shape with succulent flesh and many small seeds, which some people do not like. Dried fruit resemble dried apricots and pears.
The Fig fruit tree is native to temperate climate of present day Turkey and Asia Minor. Botanically figs are related to the mulberry and are in the same family (Moraceae). There are several native species and many culivars all belonging to the genus: Ficus.
Figs are grown throughout the world and are popular fruit trees in many older gardens. However the huge size of fig trees and their aggressive root system has meant that they are banned from many urban areas of cities.
Fig trees grow very large and bears pear-shaped fruits twice a year, in Spring and Autumn (the main crop). There is a lot of variation in size, colour and texture of the fruit depending on the variety.
Fresh figs are available in Spring and late Summer, but with imports are virtually available right throughout the year. Look for soft but firm ripe fruits, which yield to the touch and have a sweet aroma. Avoid any fruit that is soft, squishy or bruised, or shows any damage, fungus or mold on the skin. Avoid unripe green fruits as they will have an astringent taste and may take too long to ripen at home.
Before eating fresh, ripe figs wash them in cold water under the tap and then dry with a paper towel. Some people like to peel them, other don’t mind the skin as long as it is not blemished. Figs are best eaten when at room temperature so leave them out of the refrigerator for an hour or so before serving.
You can make a simple, delicious Fig Tart by following this simple recipe:
Blend the walnuts, add the figs and blend again. Add all the remaining ingredients and blend in a food processor or blender until the mixture forms a sticky paste.
Process until the mixture is the texture of a sticky paste. Pour the mixture into the pastry case, flatten it down to form an even layer and bake at a moderate temperature for about 35-45 minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine the goat cheese, pecan nuts and basil in a small bowl. Place a spoonful of the goat cheese mixture on top of each fig half and wrap with a slice of bacon, securing with a wooden toothpick. Place the figs on a wire rack inserted over a baking tray. Bake for 6-9 minutes, until bacon is crisp and browned. Serve immediately.
Combine the sugar, cinnamon, figs, vinegar, mixed spice and oil in a medium-size saucepan. Cook over moderate heat, stirring frequently, for 2-3 minutes until the mixture comes to the boil. Lower the heat and simmer partially covered, stirring frequently, for about 10 minutes, until mixture thickens. Then, cool and transfer to an airtight glass container. Keep in the refrigerator.
Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (355 degrees F). Grease six 1 cup capacity pudding moulds with melted butter, and line the bases with baking paper. Place the figs and water in a medium-size saucepan and bring to the boil over moderate heat. Add the bicarbonate soda and set aside to cool for about 15 minutes. Beat the butter and brown sugar using an electric mixer until pale and creamy. While mixing add the eggs, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each addition. Add the flour and the reserved fig mixture in small batches until well mixed. Half fill the moulds with the mixture and add one caramel. Spoon the remaining mixture on top. Bake the puddings for 25-30 minutes or until firm to the touch. Remove from the oven, cool a little and then turn out onto serving plates and dust with icing sugar. Serve warm with a dollop of cream or yogurt.
Place the crushed figs in a serving bowl and lightly season with salt and freshly ground white or black pepper. Drizzle with olive oil and the wine vinegar. Sprinkle the crumbled blue cheese over the figs, then sprinkle with walnuts (or pecans), basil, baby spinach and pepitas. Serve with char-grilled bread cut into thin slices.
Soak the dried figs in boiling water for 10 minutes and then drain and slice into large pieces. Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C (355 degrees F). Brush a medium size rectangular loaf pan with melted butter and line with non-stick baking paper. Sift the rye and plain flours, bicarbonate of soda and salt into a large bowl. Add the walnuts, figs, pepitas, sunflower seeds and rosemary and mix until well combined. Pour in the buttermilk and honey, and stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until just combined. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and bake for 45-50 minutes. Remove from the oven. Cool for 5 minutes and then turn out on a wire rack and cool for an hour. Lower the oven temperature to 150 degrees C (300 degrees F). Line 2 large oven trays with non-stick baking paper. Using a very sharp knife, cut the loaf into very thin slices and place on the lined baking trays. Bake in preheated oven for about 30-40 minutes, until the crackers are golden brown and have started to become crisp. The crackers will become crisper as they cool on the trays. Store in a sealed container.
Add half the sugar to a large heavy frying pan or Dutch oven over moderate heat and cook for 2-3 minutes, until it caramelises. Add add half the figs, with the cut side facing down. Cook for 2 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan and then cook the rest of the figs in a similar way. Remove the figs and set aside. Add the remaining sugar to the pan, and caramelise the sugar. Adding the oranges slices and cook for 1 minute on each side. Remove and add to the figs. Remove the pan from the heat and add the lemon juice, liqueur, fennel seeds, olive oil and garlic. Season generously with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Remove the pan from the heat. Place the cooked figs and oranges on a large serving platter. Sprinkle with the crumbled feta cheese. Drizzle the juices from the frying pan over the mixture. Sprinkle with the oregano and rocket and serve warm.
|Nutrients (serving size 100 g)||Figs||Apricot||Banana||Blueberries||Dates||Kiwifruit|
|Total Fat (g)||0.3||0.39||0.33||0.76||0.15||0.52|
|Total Carbohydrates (g)||19.18||11.11||22.84||12.31||74.98||14.67|
|Dietary Fiber (g)||2.9||2||2.63||2.67||6.67||3.04|
|Vitamin C (mg)||2||10||8.73||18.27||0||92.75|
|Pantothenic Acid (mg)||0.3||0.24||0.33||0.27||0.81||0.19|
|Vitamin B6 (mg)||0.11||0.06||0.36||0.03||0.25||0.06|
|Vitamin B12 (mcg)||0||0||0||0||0||0|
|Vitamin A (IU)||142||1926||64||115||150||87|
|Vitamin E (mg)||0.11||0.89||0.1||1.69||1.46|
|Vitamin K (mcg)||4.7||3.29||0.51||17.2||2.71||40.29|
|Saturated Fat (g)||0.06||0.03||0.11||0.03|
|Monounsaturated Fat (g)||0.07||0.17||0.03||0.04|
|Polyunsaturated Fat (g)||0.14||0.07||0.08||0.29|