Fun facts on figs


By: Judy Davie - The Food Coach

Figs are on my mind, not only because they are in season, but also because my neighbour asked me to look after her precious fig tree. She was going away, the tree was spilling with fruit, and I eagerly volunteered to take care of it. One week later, after so much rain, the tree, is now languishing in a new pot on my deck, sheltered from the rain, looking very sad indeed.

Lots of googling later I now know a lot more about figs, over and above that their roots really don't like getting wet, the plant is as sensitive as the fruit they bear and they're quite expensive.

I now know why they're expensive. It's like caring for a newborn.

Anyway, some fun facts: -

  • Figs are delicious, and in season right now
  • They were first cultivated in Egypt, about 6000 years ago, and were Cleopatra's favourite fruit.
  • Some historians believe that the forbidden fruit Adam and Eve bit into in the story of Genesis, the first story in the Old Testament of the Bible, was not an apple but a fig. This makes sense given they covered their private parts with fig leaves.
  • Fig leaves are used medicinally to reduce the amount of insulin required by insulin-dependent diabetics.
  • The latex sap from the fig tree can be used as a cure for common warts with little or no side effects.
  • Fig trees have no blossoms on their branches. The blossom is inside of the fruit! Many tiny flowers produce crunchy little edible seeds that give figs their unique texture.
  • Early Olympic athletes used figs as a training food. They were also presented as laurels to the winners.
  • In Roman times figs were believed to increase the strength of young people, to maintain the elderly in better health, and to make them look younger with fewer wrinkles.
  • The fig tree is a symbol of abundance, fertility, and sweetness.
  • Eating one-half cup of figs has as much calcium as drinking one-half cup of milk.
  • Figs are high in natural sugars, minerals, and soluble fibre. Figs are rich in potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, and copper and are a good source of antioxidant vitamins A and K.
  • There's about a two-day window when buying figs, they are extremely perishable and delicate. When ripe they are soft and sweet, with a firm stem, and may even be slightly oozing with sweet syrup.
  • Buy fresh figs loose, to inspect all around the fruit. Look for plump fruit with the skin intact. the skin should not be wrinkled or oozing.
  • No need to peel the skin, just give them a quick wash and enjoy!

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