One of my favorite times of the year is when figs start showing up in the grocery store. I had Fig Newton cookies when I was a kid, but I was in my late 20s, I guess, before I ate an actual fresh fig.

I’ve never used them in cooking, except for a fig dressing I had to make at the restaurant once. I just eat them as is.

Fig preserves are also very good on a ham or turkey sandwich, too.

Here is a little history of the fig I found on a website. By the way, the fig is not really a fruit. It is a flower that is picked before it has opened.

The Sensuous Fig, by Margaret E. Walker

The fig tree is the symbol of abundance, of fertility, of sweetness. Anyone who has had a fig tree knows that it appeals to the birds. Garden stores sell netting to protect the tree, but the fig tree is so abundant with the fruits it offers that there is no reason to NOT share with the birds.

People in temperate climates plant fig trees. Many in colder climates have been known to bring the tree indoors during the winter dormant season, its roots wrapped in burlap. We love this tree.

Read more here.

Further Reading
History of the Fig
A history of the Fig Newton. (Does anyone even eat these anymore?)
Fig Trees and Archaeology: The History of the Domestication of Fig ...

Tags: figs, food, fruit

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Replies to This Discussion

Never tried fresh ones? There's nothing better than a ripe fig you picked on the figtree yourself, on a sunny day.

And yes, I eat the seeds (they're so tiny it's very impractical to remove them), and skin. Although many people prefer to remove the skin when the fig isn't fully ripe (the one in the picture above obviously isn't, the skin is still too thick - or it may be a different variety than the ones I'm used to).
There are two types, but the names escape me at the moment, and I don't want to look them up right now -- but I think they are Calymyra and Mission. One is green, and one is purple. I like the purple ones. You eat them skin, seed, and all, except for the stem. They are sweet and tender, and expensive, too.
If you plant a single figtree, be sure it's a female one. Male figtrees also give fruits, but they're inedible. And figtrees prefer poor, non-acidic soils. They like water, but not permanently wet grounds. They grow better in hot, sunny places, but you'd better protect them from wind.

Figs continue to ripen after being picked, but they're far (very -) from becoming as good as figs you let come to full maturity on the tree.

I don't know if it's true for all varieties, but for the ones that grow where I live, the skin indeed becomes thinner when they mature (about 1 mm). By "skin", I mean the outer envelope plus the white coating you can see in the picture above.

[edit] I forgot: even on a single tree, figs never come to maturity at the same time. So be sure to check your figtree every day when the season comes.
I have 5 small fig trees in my yard. I am going to disagree with some things said here, although it my be variety or region specific. Not meaning to be controversial about food, it's just individual experience.

They bear almost no resemblence to fig newtons. Fresh figs are wonderfully sweet (like nectar), and juicy. They have a crunchiness from the seeds. I slice then ends off, then quarter the figs. Other people eat them out of hand.

I don't agree that they ripen off the tree. Figs that I have bought, never ripen properly and never taste like fresh, fully ripened fig. A lot of people have told me that they hate figs, but when I give them a fresh, tree-ripened fig, they saw "wow".

A ripe fig becomes heavy in the hand, droops on the branch, develops tears in the skin, and sometimes loses drop of nectar from the 'eye'. There is an old Greek (or Italian, or Spanish) proverb: A fig is ripe when it has a hangman's neck (droops), a mourner's eye (oozes honeydew from the eye) and a penitent's robe (skin tears).

Fig trees are easily grown from cuttings. In climates that are fig-friendly (in the US, basically to zone 7 or 8), they are low maintence. In colder climates, hobbiests grow them in containers, and haul them into the garage or basement, dormant, for the winter. Older Italian, Greek, and Yugoslavian immigrant men seem to be carrying on their tradition.

Judith, in Vancouver WA, some varieties have summer (breba) crop and a fall (main) crop. Some are one or the other. Summer crop is less if winter is harsh, and fall crop can be iffy if frost comes to soon. However, my fall crops are much larger than my summer crop, for most of the trees. They are easy to grow but it helps to know someone who grows them. :-)

Sorry to go from food to gardening, but it seemed appropriate here. I love fresh figs. In a sense, growing your own is the ultimate "slow food".

from my yard 2 weeks ago

I don't agree that they ripen off the tree. Figs that I have bought, never ripen properly and never taste like fresh, fully ripened fig.

I suppose this is a reaction to what I wrote earlier. If so, maybe I wasn't clear, or it's just the verb convey a slightly different meaning in French. I can only agree with you, figs don't ripen well off the tree, yet they don't enter stasis either when you pick them unripe. Dried figs are often left to mature off the tree.

A word of caution: the milky sap ('honeydew') from some varieties is an irritant to the mucosae and skin, when the fig is not fully ripe. That's why it's better to remove the stem from these before consumption. And to use gloves if you want to make your living from it.
I ♥ figs...

great fig links as well, Dallas.


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