Sunday, September 10, 2006


photo of painting by: Nellie Crawford

photo of painting by: Jennifer Howard
figs [ficus carica L.], related to the mulberry family, are one of the most important ancient Mediterranean fruit known, with references dating back to biblical times in the Garden of Eden where Adam & Eve covered themselves with fig leaves. figs [תאנים] are an important symbol in judaism and are part of what is called the seven species. there are historical references to the ancient Egyptians growing and cultivating figs in 4000 BCE. not only eaten as a fruit in its fresh and dried forms, figs were also an extremely important sweetener and resource for the making of alcohol because they contain over 50% sugar — and sugar, as we know it today, did not exist. honey was not an option as it was extremely expensive and reserved for the wealthy.

It is thought that the fig originated in Northern Asia and was introduced to the Middle East through trade. From the Middle East it then made its way to the Mediterranean, to Crete & Greece and later to other parts of Europe. The first figs in the New World would appear in Mexico around 1560 CE, brought by Spanish missionaries, and later be introduced to California in 1769 with the establishment of the San Diego Mission.

today's varieties of figs are numerous and some of them include the dark-skinned kinds such as the black mission, calimyrna & brown turkey and the green-skinned kind like the adriatic & kadota. whether dark skinned or green skinned or even brown, they are delicious.

did you know .... the fig is really just an inverted flower?

For more information and some recipes, try the California Figs Advisory Board.

for some unbelievable photography & recipes about figs, special mention goes to chika's japanese foodblog — a real find — called she who eats. do check it out...all of it.

and visit here for a more detailed history.

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i bought a flat of figs today and have to use them promptly as they don't keep for long though i have read they can actually be frozen.

simple & delicious poached figs


12 fresh figs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup orange juice
1 tbsp orange flower water


preheat oven to 325°F

prick each fig at the bottom several times and stand them in a greased 8 inch baking dish. sprinkle figs with 1/3 cup sugar and then add water.

bake figs in middle of oven & baste twice with its juices until tender, approimately 30 minutes.

transfer figs to a serving dish. on stovetop, add 1/4 cup orange juice and bring to a boil over moderately high heat to reduce it to a syrup. do not overcook. you may add a bit of water if it has reduced too much. add the orange flower water and then pour over figs.

serve figs either warm or at room temperature.

based on a recipe by Diana's Desserts.


TopChamp said...

Have just got first ever fresh figs... so this could be fun.

Don't know what orange flower water is though.

burekaboy — said...

hey tc - this is a perfect recipe for an introduction to them. you don't need the orange flower water to make them. it does add extra flavour though. it can be found at gourmet food stores (a store selling french products will have it) usually, or a middle eastern shops for sure. orange flower water is the distillate of the blossoms. it adds a wonderful flavour. you only use small amounts.

i also put up a recipes for a goats cheese, strawberry and fig tart, if that interests you :)