The fig is an ancient, pear shaped fruit originating in Southern Europe, Asia, and Africa. It is an early symbol of peace and prosperity. They were brought to North Africa by Spanish Fransican missionaries. In North Africa, they were a symbol of fertility. Egyptians placed them in pharaohs tombs. The Greeks and Roman prized them highly. The fig tree is the first tree to be mentioned in the Bible after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. They discovered they were naked, so they sewed fig leaves together to cover them selves. The many seeds of the fig are suppose to signify unity and the universality of true understanding of knowledge and faith.
The fig tree is a prolific bearer, and live for up to 100 years. A member of the mulberry family, it is one of the sweetest fruits available, with a high sugar content. The fruit is very delicate and bruises easily. It is very perishable. It is ripe when it is soft, and the thin skin rests close to the flesh. The fig needs hot summers , and mild winters, and is in season form June to October.
There are several hundred varieties of figs. They range in color from purple black to almost white. There are three categories of figs: black, green, and purple.
The black fig is sweet and rather dry. It is not as perishable as other figs.
The Green fig has thin skin and is very juicy.
The purple fig is the juiciest and sweetest. It is the most perishably and relatively rare.
The Mission fig is the most popular. It has dark purple skin, and brownish flesh, and small seeds.
The brown turkey is a large southern fig, with violet to brownish skin, and pink flesh. It is pear shaped.
The royal Mediterranean is a green skinned fig with a purple tinge. It’s flesh is whitish pink.
The Magnolia or Brunswick is a large fig with amber skin, and pinkish yellow flesh.
The Californian Calymyrna have green skinned and ivory colored flesh. They are food for drying and to eat out of hand.
The Kadota is a small thick skin yellow-green fruit. They are medium, all-purpose figs, yellowish-green in color, and thick-skinned with sweet white to amber-pink pulp. They have only a few small seeds.
The Smyrna is a Turkish fig. Other varieties include the White King, the Everbearing, and Strawberry Figs.
The Adriatic is light green in color with pale pink or dark red flesh and is noted for its pronounced flavor, especially when dried, yet it is also enjoyed fresh.
The wild fig comes not from a tree but from a fat, thorny plant from the American subtropics. When the Europeans arrived in the New World, they discovered this "fig" in the present Mexico. Imported to Europe, it acclimatized very well to the Mediterranean basin and notably in North Africa. The wild fig has a skin with small thorns that make harvest laborious. It is why one uses tongs to pick up the fruits. Under this skin, hides an orange pulp sprinkled with small seeds of dark color.
Figs are good for eating out of hand, or to be cooked. Lemon enhances sweetness. Herbs balances figs intense sweetness. Bay, thyme, anise hyssop, or aniseed, lavender, cloves and cardamom compliment the figs sweetness. Milder cheeses such as ricotta, mascapone, and farmer cheese. and pungent salty cheeses such as feta, goat, manchego and dry jack, complement the figs sweetness. Other fruits that complement figs are raspberries, pears,and white peaches.
Today, the main producers of figs include Turkey, Greece, US, Portugal, and Spain. Except for in the Mediterranean, figs are thought of as a luxury food because of their high price.
Figs contain iron, calcium, phosphorous, potassium, and fiber. They are used as a duritetic and a laxative.
Figs Flavor Pairing Guide
cheese, especially, blue and goat
citrus peel, candied
nuts, except peanuts
Black Jack Kadota
Black Mission Dried Mission
Brown Turkish Calimyrna
© 2012 Chef Jennifer M. Denlinger All rights reserved
Cite me: Denlinger, J. (2012, October, 18). Figs. Retrieved from: FloridaChef.net