Saturday, September 18, 2010

falling in love with figs

I had a fresh fig for the first time this summer. Really, the first time ever! I grew up loving Fig Newtons, but they hardly count. I'd come closer to an actual fig with a very tasty fig & prosciutto panini from Whole Foods... This was pretty much the extent of my fig experience until this summer when I finally gave in to my curiosity at the farmer's market and approached Ivan's Fig Farm. This is what I'd been missing??? I couldn't believe the unique flavor and texture. It was so rich and delicious! Luscious, amazing, figgy goodness.

Turns out, not only do they taste amazing, but they provide a lot of good health benefits:
  • Packed with potassium
  • Good source of fiber
  • Good source of calcium and magnesium. In fact, the fig has one of the highest calcium contents of any plant based food.
  • I haven't eaten the leaves, but they have apparently been shown to have antidiabetic properties and even lower levels of triglycerides. Maybe I should make these my next new food adventure!
They are quite high in natural sugars though, so I try to refrain from eating a whole box of them at once - as tempting as it is! I learned at the market that you should look for a deep, rich color and select figs that are plump but not mushy. If you don't plan to eat them in the next day or two, (or before you can even grab your wallet to pay for them as I've done) then select figs that are more firm.  When they begin to soften, use them or refrigerate them.  Once they're ripe, figs spoil very quickly. 

I've since bought some fresh figs from Whole Foods to use for some recipes and experiments with the food dehydrator. They're not as tasty as the ones from the market, but they're more affordable when you want a bunch for preserving. If you've never tried a fresh fig, I highly recommend grabbing some from your local farmer's market if they have them and from Ivan's if you're a St. Louis local - but hurry, the season is almost over!

Recipes I'm anxious to try:

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