Next time you bite into a Fig Newton cookie or other chewy fig treat you might consider its sweet filling. Figs are among the oldest fruits known to man. They have given tasty nutrition since nutrition history and make figs make an excellent snack food.
A little known fact is that the fig tree is a member of the mulberry family. Figs produce hundreds of tiny female flowers, which ripen into a soft, purplish, brownish or greenish pear-shaped fruit. The inside holds masses of tiny seeds.
Figs are native to the Mediterranean area and have been cultivated since the beginning of time. The Greeks, Egyptians and Romans all fancied the fruit, eating it both fresh and dried. The fig has symbolic and religious significance in both their ancient and modern cultures.
Today the world’s best figs come from California’s San Joaquin Valley. Fresh they are quite different from the dried figs that you see packaged on the store shelves. Figs are ripe when they become soft to the touch and should be picked immediately. The fruit must be tree ripened before it is picked.
When growing figs it helps to cover the trees with fruit netting before the fruit ripens, to keep birds from eating the fruit before you can pick the fruit. After all, the birds enjoy the sweet tasty fruit every bit as much as their human neighbors and avid fig cookie lovers.
Figs are as significant to our diet, as they were to our ancestors. They fit well into today’s dietary guidelines. For nutrient rich edibles here are a few fig recipes to try.
2 qts chopped fresh figs (about 5 lb.)
1 cup water
6 cups sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
To prepare chopped figs, pour boiling water over figs, and allow to stand 10 minutes. Drain, stem and chop figs. Add water and sugar to figs. Slowly bring mixture to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook rapidly until thickened. Stirring frequently to prevent sticking, next add lemon juice, cooking about one minute longer. Pour boiling mixture into hot jelly jars. Adjust caps and process 10 to 15 minutes. Makes about 5 pints.
1 ½ cup sugar
3/4 cup butter
1 cup milk
4 egg whites, beaten
1 ½ cups chopped figs
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tbsp. molasses
3 cups flour
½ tsp salt
4 tsp. baking powder
1tsp lemon flavoring
Cream sugar and butte then blend in milk. Next add half the dry ingredients. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites and then remaining dry ingredients and lemon flavoring. Remove about 0ne-third of this mixture and to the remaining two-thirds, add molasses, and figs which have been coated in two tablespoons of flour. Pour into a well-greased, floured tube or bunt pan. Swirls the remaining one-third light colored mixtures into the dark-colored mixture. Bake at 350 for about one hour.