Monday, April 7, 2014

F is for Fig: Yummy Fruits A-Z

Figs have a long history, dating back to biblical times and ancient civilizations, as referenced in the Bible and other ancient writings. They were an important food in traditional diets and highly regarded by rulers, by some even as sacred. Figs are thought to have been first cultivated in Egypt, eventually spreading to ancient Crete, and then Greece around the 9th century BC.  

Spanish missionaries are credited with introducing figs to America in the 19th century, with the establishment of missions in California. It took awhile for the mission figs to reach the quality of European figs, but today California is one of the largest producers. 

California figs are available year round in the U.S., as fresh from June through September and dried any time. Fresh is best of course, or dried organic, since non-organic dried figs are processed with sulfites, which some people are very sensitive to, especially those with asthma.

Since figs are a good source of potassium, consuming figs can help lower one's blood pressure. Fig's high fiber content, as with other fruits, is also a benefit in weight management. Other health claims are the fig leaf's anti-diabetic properties and the ability to lower triglycerides in the blood. Lastly, figs are good for the eyes, and appear to lower the risk of macular degeneration.

Fig Recipe

"Yummy Fig Bars"

10 oz. dried figs (cut into quarters; remove any stems)
1/4 cup brown sugar (packed down)
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
**(add to food processor)
2 tablespoons orange juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Crust and Topping
1-1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon 
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg or cardamom (optional)
1/4 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) chilled unsalted butter 
1 large egg

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line one 8-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, then butter the foil. Set aside.
Make Fig filling: In small saucepan mix the following ingredients: figs, brown sugar, orange peel, and 1/2 cup water. Cook over medium heat, stirring for 12 to 14 minutes (figs should be tender and liquid mostly absorbed). Pour filling into food processor container. Add orange juice and salt, and process until smooth. Transfer mixture to medium bowl and cool to room temperature.
Make Crust/Topping: In second bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. With fork or pastry cutter mix in butter and egg until mixture is crumbly.
Prepare bars: Place half of Crust/Topping mixture into prepared pan. Pat down evenly. Spread fig filling on top. Crumble remaining Crust/Topping mixture on top. Bake 55-60 minutes until golden brown. Cool completely on wire rack before cutting. Yield: 16 (2-inch) bars. 

Fig Jokes

Why did the apple go out with a fig?
It couldn't find a date!

Knock, knock.
Who's there?
Figs who?
Figs the doorbell, it's broken!

Fig Books

--The Sweetest Fig by Chris Van Allsburg (1993) (ages 5-8)
(fantasy; a French dentist eats a fig
and has a wild dream that comes true)

--The Fig Eater by Jody Shields (2001)
(adult fiction; a murder mystery)

Fig Movies

Fig Trees (documentary) 2009
(story of fight for access to Aids treatment in South Africa) 

Fig (short film) 2011
(a young mother's love is tested in south Los Angeles)

Fig Song

--"A Fig for a Kiss" (video link)
Doherty-Palm-Topp Irish Folk (Germany)


  1. Oh, wow, I actually remember The Sweetest Fig from my childhood...heh.

  2. The only figs I'm familiar with are Fig Newtons, and I know those aren't healthy like cooking or baking with real figs. LOL. Which, I would love to make my own. Thanks for the recipe. Funny story about Fig Newtons, though. When I was little my sister didn't want me to eat any (so she could have more) and told me that the cookies were filled with turtle guts. I believed her and it took me a long time to try one. Ugh, sisters.

  3. I've never liked figs. It may be the only way we got them as kids was dried or in biscuits, but when I finally tried a fresh one, I couldn't see the attraction. The benefits you list makes me think I ought to try again, but...
    Love the jokes, though :D
    Blogging from Alpha to Zulu in April

    1. Hi Heather. You are the first to recognize any of these fruit books. It sounds like a really cute book.

      Christina - That is so funny about your sis. I've heard similar stories. Thanks for visiting my blog!

      Hi Jemima! - That's ok. I don't think figs are all that popular...although I happen to like fig newtons dunked in milk.

  4. My father has 5 fig trees - that's a lot of figs for one family - which is why he constantly sent us to visit the neighbours with a bag of figs. I love the history you have provided - we used to use the milk from the stems to get rid of warts... :)

  5. Who knew there would be a song about a fig? LOL. Actually this is very timely because just this weekend I worked myself into a tizzy because I couldn't get dates, figs, and prunes straight in my head. I know the answer, but at the moment I was second guessing myself...

  6. I do like figs. My mother always bought some a Christmas time. I didn't realize that they were good for lowering blood pressure, so I'm going to make sure I eat them regularly in future.
    I wonder if the ready made fig bars you can buy in shops are as good as the real thing?

    1. Hello Ida - Five fig trees....oh wow. That's an interesting cure for warts. You do not say if you ate or liked those figs :) Thanks for visiting my blog!

      Vicki - Hello again! Oh, I'm glad this helped. Let me if you try the recipe. Thanks!

      Fanny - Oh, what a treat at Christmas that must have been. Give the recipe a try and let me know what you think. Thanks!

  7. Now you are on the right track. I love figs. Unfortunately for Emperor Augustus, so did he. Although, to be fair, his demise wasn't caused by his love of figs, but by his murderous wife Livia.

  8. This time I know the fruit but I 've never tasted them. Its good to know that figs have some medicinal values too.

  9. I remember them being so sweet and good.

    1. Hello again, Inge! Oh, I'm so glad someone else likes figs. Ooh...figs are the subject of murder and mystery once again.

      Hi Anoosha - Thanks for commenting. We can all be healthier now!

      Inger - Thank you for visiting my blog again! I hope you can try the recipe.

  10. I never liked the little seeds in figs.

  11. During my days in USA from 2001-2004, got familiar with this fruit. Nice reading the post.

  12. Sharing, this is probably going to sound odd, but I don't like figs, yet I love big new cookies. When I open a box or package, I empty it in one sitting. And now I'm hungry for a few (dozen).

  13. Yum! I love figs.

    1. Thanks for visiting, Cathy!

      Jayanta - Welcome! Thanks for commenting!

      Debi - That's okay. You and a few others. Maybe the recipe will convince you!

      Leslie - Me, too. Let me know if you like the recipe :)

  14. Thanks for the recipe I look forward to trying it out. I didn't have a fig until I moved to CA and found one on a tree at my daughter's school. Up until that point fig newtons were all I knew about them.

  15. My relationship with figs has been limited to those of the Newton variety!

  16. Hi Sharon! Thanks for visiting my blog. Oh how I LOVE figs...had a fig tree in my back yard when I was growing up so I had them fresh and then my mother used to peel them, sprinkle them with sugar and freeze them for a winter treat...;~)

    Take care,

    Donna L Martin

  17. What a fun "figgy" post!

    One of our family's New Year's resolutions this year was to try a lot of new foods in 2014. We never had fresh figs and they are on the list to try. Looking forward to it!

  18. The only figs I've ever eaten were in Fig Newtons. And I'm sure those are rather devoid of figs....

  19. Lol, I think I'm in the same boat as Alex...I don't think I've ever actually eaten a fig, though I have had some fig newtons in the past!

  20. I have never had a fig. Not even a Fig Newton. I should probably remedy that...

  21. I remember my mom getting dried fruit from someone she worked with at Christmas time and having dried figs in there; they were tasty; but I haven't had a fig in years.


    1. Thanks everyone for commenting. Maybe we can all try the recipe and make our own fig newtons, right?

  22. Hi Sharon .. I 've always loved figs .. but have never been sure of how to prepare a cooked one ... does one take the skin off, or cook it as is .. I do buy them and eat them! I had a fig tree in South Africa, but was never quite sure what to do .. ?!

    Still I'm amazed at all the info you've come up with .. incredible list .. and fun to read ...

    Re earthquakes - I'll answer on my post .. yes we do get tremors .. mini ones - nothing major ... we're not in an earthquake zone ..

    Cheers - I loved reading this .. now I want to go and find some figs .. another month or two I guess ...

  23. Thanks, Hilary. I really was curious about the earthquakes. ha..I'm not sure how to peel a fig either. I've only had dried!

  24. I didn't realize that figs were high in potassium. I always thought of them as a sweet treat, but as someone who struggles with low potassium levels, I will have to try your recipe out for figs. Thanks for all the great information. I am pinning a lot of your posts to pinterest for later use. Enjoy. Maria at Delight Directed Living


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