Figs are a traditional food in religious celebrations in Greek, Italian, Turkish and other Middle Eastern cultures. In the original Olympic Games, winning athletes were crowned with fig wreaths and given figs to eat. These fruits were considered to increase strength, to provide a speedy recovery from illness and to preserve the elderly in better health. Some of the most popular varieties of figs are:
Black Mission: blackish-purple skin and pink colored flesh
Kadota: green skin and purplish flesh
Calimyrna: greenish-yellow skin and amber flesh
Brown Turkey: purple skin and red flesh
• High alkalinity
• Natural source of psoralen, a compound used to sensitize skin in the treatment of skin conditions
• Contains a natural humectant, which extends the freshness of baked goods
• Good source of dietary fiber and calcium
Choosing & Storing:
Fresh figs are one of the most perishable fruits. They should be purchased only a day or two before you eat them. Choose figs that have a rich, deep colour and are plump and tender, but not mushy. They should have firm stems and be free of bruises. They should have a mildly sweet fragrance and should not smell sour, which is an indication that they may be spoiled. Due to their delicate nature, figs can bruise easily so make sure they are stored arranged on a paper towel-lined plate or shallow container. They should be covered or wrapped in order to ensure that they do not dry out, get crushed or pick up odours from neighboring foods. Slightly under-ripe figs can be placed on a plate at room temperature and away from direct sunlight.
Tips for Preparing Figs:
Figs need to be washed just before eating or cooking. Run them under cool water, then gently remove the stem. Pat them dry with a towel. Add figs to oatmeal or any other whole grain breakfast porridge. Poach figs in juice or your favourite red wine and serve with cheese or nuts. Add quartered figs to a salad of fennel, arugula and shaved Parmesan cheese. Stuff fresh figs with goat cheese or your favourite creamy cheese, and chopped almonds, walnuts or pecans.