Update: 05/22/2019 - Advertising Disclosure

Everything You Need To Know About Figs

Everything You Need To Know About Figs
Reading Time: 6 minutesFigs are a very mysterious flower: that’s right, they are a flower! Many people believe the fig is a fruit, but in reality, it is an inverted flower that is pollinated by small symbiotic wasps. They are only available twice per year and are very seasonal, so it is key to get ahold of one while they are in season. So what are the seasons you ask? There are technically two different fig seasons to know about: early summer and late summer. The harvest in the early summer is smaller than the harvest in the late summer. [1] These sweet and savory morsels are packed with flavor, are almost always fresh, and have the perfect amount of bite to satisfy any pallet!

10 Fig Fun Facts

  • “Fig trees have no blossoms on their branches. The blossom is inside of the fruit! Many tiny flowers produce the crunchy little edible seeds that give figs their unique texture.
  • Figs are harvested according to nature’s clock, fully ripened and partially dried on the tree.
  • Fig puree can be used to replace fat in baked goods.
  • The early Olympic athletes used figs as a training food. Figs were also presented as laurels to the winners, becoming the first Olympic “medal.”
  • Figs made their first commercial product appearance with the 1892 introduction of Fig Newtons® cookies.
  • The fig tree is a symbol of abundance, fertility, and sweetness.
  • Eating one half cup of figs has as much calcium as drinking one-half cup of milk.” [2]
  • Figs are considered to be the first cultivated crop, and their prevalence dates all the way back to prehistoric times.
  • Figs thrive in hot, dry climates, like the Mediterranean. Turkey tops world production, followed by Egypt, Iran, Greece, Algeria, and Morocco.
  • It took 100 years for California to develop its fig industry, and today, the state is the top producer of figs (98% of U.S. crops).” [3]
back to menu ↑

Fig History/Mythology

Figs trees are present in both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, and are said to be one of the oldest cultivated crops known to mankind. They symbolize fertility, peace, and prosperity among many different religions. The fig tree can live to be over 100 years old and it can grow up to 50 feet high. [4] While many history books show figs to be native to the Mediterranean region, they have also been said to date back to 5,000 B.C. and were indigenous to western Asia.

According to Purdue Education,

“The fig is believed to be indigenous to western Asia and to have been distributed by man throughout the Mediterranean area. It has been cultivated for thousands of years, remnants of figs having been found in excavations of Neolithic sites traced to at least 5,000 B.C. As time went on, the fig-growing territory stretched from Afghanistan to southern Germany and the Canary Islands.” [5]

Their popularity around the world grew from there, when figs were first brought over to England around year 1525, as well as into China and Australia in year 1550. Figs did not make their way over to the New World until year 1560, when they were planted in Mexico.

“In Venezuela, the fig is one of the fruits in greatest demand by fruit processors. Because of the inadequate supply, a program was launched in 1960 to encourage commercial plantings. In 1976, fresh figs were regarded as highly desirable luxuries and were selling for $6.35 to $7.25 per pound ($14-$16/kg) in Colombia.” [5]

Some people even say the fig tree shaped human history because there is rumor that Eve picked a fig instead of an apple in the Garden of Eden, and that Buddha attained enlightenment under a fig tree. [6] There are many different symbols, religions, and places around the world that tie the fig tree to how we operate even to this day. Many different destinations around the world have adopted the fig tree as a place of prayer and tranquility, along with enjoying its good flowering fruits. The ficus species is the main root of the fig tree, and the roots grow deep and strong so it is able to last long periods of time.

This is not the case however with the fiddle leaf fig tree. These small indoor fig trees are very petite in nature and go perfectly inside of your home. They are small and friendly looking trees that have become the “it” plant of the fashion and design world. They are very emotional plants that are hard to keep alive, but if you place them in the right area of your home and give them attention, they will thrive.

According to Fashion and Style,

“You can plop it in a dead corner and suddenly everything comes to life,” said Miles Redd. [7] You might even see this tree at your local bistro, but if you are unsure simply ask the staff and they will confirm if it is indeed a fiddle leaf fig tree or not.

back to menu ↑

Fig Nutritional Facts

The fig plant is full of nutrition, and it has a sweet taste to it that is undeniable, to say the least! They are related to the mulberry tree, and are seen as an exotic food in many parts of the world due to their lack of availability. They are full of fiber, vitamin B6, copper, potassium, manganese, and pantothenic acid. If you actually take a look at their nutritional profile, you will notice they are carbohydrate heavy, with around 9 grams per fig. In just one fig there is an average of 37 calories. [8]

Other vitamins and minerals present in the fig are: vitamin B1, B2, B3, B12, biotin, choline, folate, pantothenic acid, vitamin C, and vitamin A. It is also loaded with beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, vitamin D, E, and K. In the mineral department, there is potassium, sodium, selenium, boron, calcium, iron, and fluoride, just to name a few. Wow, that is a long list for such a small flowering fruit, and your body will reap the benefits every time you take a bite out of a fresh fig, or a dried one for that matter.

back to menu ↑

Fig Health Benefits

The benefits to eating figs are absolutely spectacular, to say the least! There is a variety of health benefits associated with consuming figs, and they are too good to pass up. When you bite into a fig, you are instantly getting potassium, which in turn can help with lowering blood pressure in the body.

According to World’s Healthiest Foods,

“Since many people not only do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, but consume high amounts of sodium as salt is frequently added to processed foods, they may be deficient in potassium.” [8]

Another health benefit regarding figs is their ability to help you lose weight due to their higher fiber content. When you eat a fig you will feel less hungry, which in turn will result in less snacking over time.

With more fiber you will also get gastrointestinal relief as it helps “keep things moving”, if you know what I mean. They are also a big player in preventing colon cancer due to their antioxidants that fight off free radicals. [9] The fiber present links to many different health benefits. Figs also can help with cardiovascular health.

“In animal studies, fig leaves have been shown to lower levels of triglycerides (a form in which fats circulate in the bloodstream), while in in vitro studies, fig leaves inhibited the growth of certain types of cancer cells. Researchers have not yet determined exactly which substances in fig leaves are responsible for these remarkable healing effects.” [8]

back to menu ↑

Fig Varieties

There are four different varieties of figs that are popular among the masses and are worth trying out in your lifetime. There are more than 4 varieties of figs in general, but I am highlighting the tasty four that are worth looking into!

Black Mission

Although the name makes it appear black, it is actually small and pink in color. It has been said to originate off the coast of Spain, but can be found growing in California today.

Sierra

This variety of fig has green skin even when it is fully ripe! It is large in size, and is best known as the “fig and olive” pairing, and even goes well with cheese too.

King

This type of fig is known to grow in colder more damp parts of the United States, like in the Pacific Northwest. It has dark purple flesh on the inside, but green skin on the outside.

Kadota

This is the most common green variety of fig out there. It has been said to date back thousands of years and is known as Dotatto in Italy. [10]

back to menu ↑

Fig Uses

Many times in different restaurants, you will see figs featured on the menu, apart of their fancy ingredient list for the special, or offered just plain as is to the public. Many people love these little morsels, but they are seasonal and special. There are a variety of fig recipes you can incorporate into your diet too, and they are simple to make and even more pleasing to the palate than if you were to buy them at a restaurant or store!

back to menu ↑

Baked Fig Crostini Recipe

By: Southern Living

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces chopped cooked bacon or country ham
  • 4 ounces crumbled goat cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped toasted pecans
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 12 fresh figs
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • Toasted baguette slices

Instructions

“Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit. Stir together bacon or country ham, softened goat cheese, finely chopped toasted pecans, and chopped fresh thyme. Cut figs in half. Press back of a small spoon into centers of fig halves, making a small indentation in each. Spoon bacon mixture into indentations. Bake on a baking sheet 7 minutes. Drizzle with honey. Serve immediately with toasted baguette slices.” [11]

       ConsumersCompare.org