Figs have been cultivated by man since ancient times (4000 BC) and are well known throughout the world. The unusual fruit grows on a deciduous subtropical tree, native to Western Asia. There are several types of fig, and they have grown successfully in home orchards and backyards since early European settlers first brought them to New Zealand. Figs make ideal candidates for espalier or container planting.
With an age-old reputation as a sustaining and nourishing food, figs are friendly to the digestive system in either fresh or dried form. Weight for weight, a fig contains more fibre than most other fruits or vegetables, so they’re great for bowels and cholesterol levels. They’re also high in polyphenol antioxidants, which can make them a valuable food for cancer prevention. The instant energy they provide and their ability to prevent cramps make them ideal for athletes, too.
Eat figs raw, whole and peeled. They make an excellent marmalade and jam, are perfect for various deserts, biscuits, pies and cakes and can also be used in savoury dishes.
Although figs can tolerate dry conditions they need plenty of water during the growing season to produce large succulent fruit. Plant your tree in full sun, preferably on warmer North to North-East facing slopes.
Figs generally grow in warm, relatively dry climates. Trees may require a small amount of winter chilling (cool temperatures during winter) to ensure good flowering in spring.
Figs have been an underrated fruit in New Zealand in recent times yet they fit well into the modern garden, especially if they are grown in containers where a restricted root zone makes them more manageable and fruitful.
For more information visit www.edible.co.nz.
Check out some tasty fig recipes below!
- 3 cups figs, sliced
- 5 apples, peeled, sliced
- 2 lemons, juice and rind
- 4 cups sugar
- Put all the fruit into a pan and slowly cook until tender.
- Bring to the boil, add the sugar and stir until dissolved.
- Continue boiling until the jam gives the setting test.
- Pack and seal.
Recipe courtesy of www.edible.co.nz
Grilled Figs with Goats’ Cheese and Honey
- 8 ripe figs
- 50g goats’ cheese fresh (I used Puhoi Chevre Salade) or mild feta
- 4 tablespoons runny honey
- olive oil
- Preheat the oven grill to hot.
- Wash and dry the figs. Remove the stems and place the figs upright on an oven tray.
- With a sharp knife, cut a cross into the top of each fig and spread to open up the fig a bit, so it looks like a flower. Spoon a couple of teaspoons of goats’ cheese into the opening on each fig.
- Drizzle with a little olive oil and put under the grill until the cheese is melted and starting to brown a little. This should take less than 10 minutes.
- While the figs are still warm, drizzle them with the honey.
- These figs could be added to a pile of spinach or rocket leaves for a delicious starter; or have them as an alternative to dessert with a cheese plate.
Recipe courtesy of www.healthyfood.co.nz
Fig, Yoghurt and Almond Cake
- 200g unsalted butter
- 200g caster sugar, plus 1 tsp extra
- 3 large free-range eggs
- 180g ground almonds
- 100g plain flour
- ½ tsp salt
- Scraped seeds of ½ vanilla pod or ½ tsp vanilla paste
- 1 tsp ground star anise
- 100g Greek yoghurt
- 12 figs
For the extra figs:
- 3 tbsp caster sugar
- 6 Tbsp red wine
- 6 ripe figs, quartered
- Greek yogurt
- Heat the oven to 200C/400F/gas mark 6. Line the bottom and sides of a 24cm loose-based cake tin with baking parchment.
- Put the butter and sugar in an electric mixer bowl, and use a beater to work them well until they turn light and pale.
- Beat the eggs lightly, then, with the machine on medium speed, add them gradually to the bowl, just a dribble at a time, adding more only once the previous addition is fully incorporated.
- Once all the egg is in, mix together the almonds, flour, salt, vanilla and anise, and fold into the batter. Mix until the batter is smooth, then fold in the yogurt.
- Pour the batter into the lined tin and level roughly with a palette knife or a spoon.
- Cut each fig vertically into four long wedges, and arrange in circles on top of the cake, just slightly immersed in the batter.
- Bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 170C and continue baking until it sets – about 40-45 minutes longer. Check this by inserting a skewer in the cake: it’s done if it comes out clean.
- Remove the cake from the oven and allow it to cool down before taking it out of the tin and sprinkling with a teaspoon of caster sugar.
- You can eat the cake just as it is, but the addition of warm, syrupy figs turns it into something very special.
- Put three tablespoons of caster sugar in a medium saucepan and put on a high heat until the sugar starts to caramelise.
- Remove from the heat, carefully add the wine – it will spit a bit – then return to the heat and let the caramel dissolve in the wine.
- Add the fig quarters and quickly toss them around just to warm them up.
- Spoon a generous dollop of Greek yogurt over each slice of cake, plus a few warm figs and their juice.
Recipe courtesy of www.ottolenghi.co.uk