After traveling all over Europe this summer and being teased by the unripe fig bounty in Spain and Italy my dreams have come true, the figs have ripened! Yes it’s fig time in Florida. The funny thing is most people don’t have a clue what to do with a fresh fig. I came across a highly visible fig tree in the neighborhood and introduced myself to the homeowner. The nice old man told me to help myself which I did and have been doing. As I have been picking figs I’ve gotten strange looks from people passing by. Many times I call out, “wanna try a fresh fig?” Most people have hesitated at first but overcome there fears when they see me chomp down on a plump ripe fig. They can hardly believe how good a fresh fig tastes and that it’s just growing there in plain sight.
Figs, which are in the mulberry family, are one of the best fruits to consume fresh or dry. They are a great source of calcium, B6, folic acid, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorous and potassium. They contain mucin which has a mild laxative effect, the sulfur compound ficin which anti-inflamatory and benzaldehyde which has been shown in studies to shrink tumors. Figs are known to be antiparasitic and antibacterial and a neutralizer of toxins. They are known to deter cravings for sugar, alcohol and drugs. – Referenced from “Rawsome” by Brigitte Mars. I actually ate that whole bowl of figs in the picture and have to say the laxative effect never showed up. Keep in mind I’m a raw fooder and I’m eating fresh fruits and veggies all day and everyday. Be aware that everyone’s reactions to foods are individualized according to there health and level of toxicity. Another side effect of eating all those fresh figs is a raw feeling on my lips and a fuzzy sensation on my tongue which I attribute to the tiny hairs that are on unwashed fresh figs.
Harvest figs that are plump, are dark in color and are bending at the stem. Firm greenish figs need more time on the tree. A ready fig will give a bit when squeezed similar to a hacky sack. The outside of a ripe fig will show vertical cracks and wrinkles as well. When really ripe the figs will fall from the tree and dry on the ground. If you’re brave you can harvest ground figs. Ground figs are super sweet and gooey like jam. There are a variety of bugs that like to get into the figs both on the tree and on the ground. One in particular is worth mentioning, the fig wasp. Fig wasps live symbiotically with the fig tree. They pollinate the tree and lay eggs in some of the figs. I always check suspicious figs to see if there may be buggies inside. I’ve come across trees where I’ve found no bugs in the figs and I’ve also found trees that have critters inside the very ripe figs. I think it has to do with the type of fig tree. Regardless I often check the figs before eating them by splitting them in half starting at the small hole in the bottom. Some folks have extreme bug-o-phobia. Just check your figs first and you’ll be able to enjoy the blessings of fresh figs.
A ripe and ready fig may be likened to another common sack and I’m not talk about the hacky variety this time. It’s funny how the exterior appearance of this fruit is likened to a part of the male anatomy while a cross section of the fruit may be likened to the female anatomy. A beautiful merging of the yin and yang in a delicious package.
I have one more interesting thing regarding the fig I’d like to share. Having studied Spanish in college and also being exposed to Italian on my mother’s side of the family I have often taken creative liberties in forming Spanish and Italian words by adapting them from English words. Doing that with the word “fig” has some interesting results. Using my logic I figured fig in Italian would be “figa”. Not the case… “figa” has several meanings, one is a slang reference to the female genitals, another is slang for a pretty girl and there’s also a variation that means “fanny”. Fig in Italian is “fico”. Keep that in mind when searching for figs in an Italian market. A slip of the tongue may get you slapped or get you a date.
Here’s a super simple fig vinaigrette recipe to keep you skinny and grinning:
1 C dried figs – soaked or 1 1/2 C fresh unsoaked
1/4 C apple cider vinegar
3/4 C water
1 C olive oil
1 t Himalayan or sea salt
Blend all ingredients smooth. Salt to taste. *apricots can be substituted for figs.
Salud, enjoy and Keep it Live!