August also brings the Fabulous Fig, wish is another one of my favorite ingredients to eat and cook with. For me the fig always adds a textural and flavorful balance to any dish it is added to. It can be prepared in a variety of techniques and can be found in many recipes throughout the world that range from breads, appetizer, side dishes, to desserts. In my opinion the possibilities are endless.
The edible fig is one of the first plants that was cultivated by humans. Nine subfossil figs of a parthenocarpic type dating to about 9400–9200 BC were found in the earlyNeolithic village Gilgal I (in the Jordan Valley, 13 km north of Jericho). The find predates the domestication of wheat, barley, and legumes, and may thus be the first known instance of agriculture. It is proposed that they may have been planted and cultivated intentionally, one thousand years before the next crops were domesticated (wheat and rye). Figs were also a common food source for the Romans. The fruits were used, among other things, to fatten geese for the production of a precursor of foie gras.
Figs can be eaten fresh or dried, and used in jam-making. Most commercial production is in dried or otherwise processed forms, since the ripe fruit does not transport well, and once picked does not keep well.
Two crops of figs are potentially produced each year. The first or breva crop develops in the spring on last year's shoot growth. In contrast, the main fig crop develops on the current year's shoot growth and ripens in the late summer or fall. The main crop is generally superior in both quantity and quality than the breva crop. However, some cultivars produce good breva crops (e.g., Black Mission, Croisic, and Ventura).
There are basically three varieties of common figs:
- Caducous (or Smyrna) figs require pollination by the fig wasp and caprifigs to develop crops. Some cultivars are Calimyrna, Marabout, and Zidi.
- Persistent (or Common) figs do not need pollination; fruit develop through parthenocarpic means. This is the variety of fig most commonly grown by home gardeners. Adriatic, Black Mission, Brown Turkey, Brunswick, and Celeste are some representative cultivars.
- Intermediate (or San Pedro) figs do not need pollination to set the breva crop, but do need pollination, at least in some regions, for the main crop. Examples are Lampeira, King, and San Pedro.
Figs are one of the highest plant sources of calcium and fiber. According to USDA data for the Mission variety, dried figs are richest in fiber, copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, calcium, and vitamin K, relative to human needs. They have smaller amounts of many other nutrients. Figs have a laxative effect and contain many antioxidants. They are good source of flavonoids and polyphenols including gallic acid, chlorogenic acid, syringic acid, (+)-catechin, (−)-epicatechin and rutin.In one study, a 40-gram portion of dried figs (two medium size figs) produced a significant increase in plasma antioxidant capacity. Figs are also one of the easiest, most problem-free fruits you can grow.
FIg Facts Courtesy of Wikipedia