Figs

By EAT SMARTER
Updated on 13. Jul. 2020
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​Don't be intimidated by fresh figs - even those who have never tried cooking with them should give it a go since preparing them is actually very simple. Their sweet flavor and abundance of nutrients make it well worth it!

figs

Figs...

  • ...may protect your cells. Fresh figs are a good way to get your daily requirement of vitamin E, which supports the body in its defense against cell-damaging substances such as free radicals.
  • ...are good for your bones. 100 grams of figs contain 54 milligrams of calcium, about 5.4 percent of the daily requirement of this bone-strengthening mineral.
  • ...contain iron. 100 grams of figs contain almost 5 percent of your daily requirement.
  • ...are a good source of potassium. 100 grams of figs contain 250 milligrams of potassium, a mineral which can help lower blood pressure and plays an important role in metabolism. A lack of potassium can lead to irregular heart activity and electrolyte imbalance.
  • ...strengthen your immune system. Figs are definitely a good choice for the immune system: they provide significant amounts of zinc, which boosts the immune system and also ensures healthy skin and hair.
  • ...provide B vitamins. Fresh figs contain up to 5.5 percent of the daily requirement of all the important vitamins of the B group.
  • ...aids in digestion. The soft skin on fresh figs provides important fiber that helps with digestion. Always remember to rinse well before eating!

What You Should Know About Figs

From a botanical point of view, figs are actually pseudo-fruits. In reality the actual fruit is the numerous soft yellow kernels that are hidden in the juicy pinkish red pulp. 

Since fig trees bear fruit up to three times a year, much of the abundant harvest is used to produce dried figs. The drying process might not make figs prettier, but produces a deliciously sweet product. During the drying process, the figs take on a flat shape and a brown colour, and the fruit juice and fructose they contain crystallise, making them a particularly durable snack.

Origins

Figs originally are from Asia, however today grow in most other warm countries in the Middle East and around the Mediterranean, as well as in California and Australia.

Seasonality

From July to November, fresh figs are mainly sourced from Mediterranean countries, California, Australia or Brazil. 

Flavor

Fresh figs have a pungently sweet yet very mild and aromatic flavor. Dried figs, on the other hand, are much sweeter.

Find all our fig recipes here.

How Healthy Are Figs?

Figs might not be the least-caloric ingredient, however they are still a good choice dieters are those watching their figure. They contain little fat but a lot of satiating fiber, and score points with their rich supply of provitamin A, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and calcium.

The content of these important substances is particularly high in dried figs because the drying process concentrates the nutrients. The magnesium content of dried figs, for example, is particularly remarkable: up to 75 milligrams of this muscle- and nerve-strengthening mineral are contained in the sweet treat. 

Fig Nutritional Info (100 g) Fresh Dried
Calories 60 247
Protein 1.3 g 3.9 g
Fat 0.4 g 1.3 g
Carbohydrates 13 g 54 g
Fiber 2 g 13 g 


Shopping and Cooking Tips


Shopping

Figs come in many varieties: small and large, green and dark purple, intensely sweet or rather sour. But for all figs, you can tell prime ripeness by touch: they give way softly to the touch and should have a pleasant, sweet fragrance. The skin should stil be relatively soft, however.  Figs that are too soft specimens will be mushy inside.

If you value the highest possible quality, it’s best to choose organic figs.

Storage

Fresh figs are sensitive and do not tolerate pressure or long storage. At room temperature they keep for about one day, and in the refrigerator up to three days. When shopping for dried figs, just check the best before date.

Preparation

Fresh figs can be eaten with the skin, however make sure you rinse them thoroughly before under running water, then shake them slightly dry or dab them dry with a paper towel. 

What To Make With Figs

Figs are incredibly versatile. They make for a delicious snack just on their own, or can be used to prepare dishes such as compote, cakes and tarts, jams or salads. In Spain and other Mediterranean countries, dried figs are also traditionally used to make fig bread.

Fresh figs’ sweet, aromatic flavor make them ideal ingredients in desserts as well as hearty cuisine. Pair them with parma ham or Manchego cheese for an incredibly easy and tasty appetizer, or as a compote with lamb filet for a sophisticated main entree.

Dried figs are a naturally sweet and fiber-rich ingredient which are perfect paired with oatmeal or yogurt, or in baked goods and cereal bars. But they also go wonderfully well with Middle Eastern dishes such as a vegetarian spiced couscous or with gamey meats such as as pork or venison.

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