By: Suzanne Brett, RHN – Victoria, BC
Figs are an amazingly luscious fruit that grows bountifully across the Mediterranean and California. Although, much to our advantage, there are surprisingly many trees planted in N. America as well. The last place I lived, in Vancouver, had four fig trees between us and our neighbors, and the harvest was overwhelming. We ate, dried, jarred, jammed and shared with plenty of friends, family and birds.
There are over 154 varieties of figs. Many different colors; ranging from light green to dark purple skins and light pink to deep purple flesh. Among the most common varieties are: kalamata, vista, dessert king, negretta, red Lebanese, black mission, flanders and monstreuse.
Figs are known as the fertile fruit. This may have something to do with the resemblance they have to a specific part of men’s privates. Although it is also talked about that they create bio-chemical reactions that support our bodies’ reproductive systems. For women, they help provide a cozy uterine lining and fertile egg production. In men, they help with sperm production, count and efficacy. The fact that figs contain a vast amount of B6, may also have something to do with their use for fertility support. Vitamin B6 is very helpful for balancing the reproductive system, PMS, and other hormonal symptoms/conditions.
They are also very high in fiber and potassium which makes figs a great snack for anyone with cardiovascular issues, problems with constipation or just generally low fiber diets. Research has shown that they’re great support for people with heart conditions, high sodium diets or for preventing post menopausal breast cancer.
For diabetics, the fig leaves have been proven to help rebalance insulin levels. They are anti-oxidant rich, meaning they’ll help restore cellular health and combat free-radical damage with anyone concerned about cancer prevention
My favorite way to eat figs is fresh off the tree. There’s nothing like a big juicy fresh fig that‘s just barely dangling from the branch! If you haven’t previously been a fan or are skeptical about them at all, I suggest first having them on a salad with your favorite balsamic dressing or try my fig jam recipe below. If you jar them you can save them for the winter….what a lovely winter surprise!
Fresh Fig Jam
- 1lb. figs (about 10-12 figs)
- 1 lrg sprig of fresh rosemary (about 6” long)
- ½ cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tsp lemon zest, from 1 lrg lemon
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 TBSP fresh grated ginger
- ½ cup honey or maple syrup
- ¼ cup raw sugar (or coconut sugar, stevia…)
- 1-2 whole vanilla beans, scraped
- Wash and trim stems from the figs.
- Add all ingredients into a large crock pot and simmer on low-med heat.
- Once sugar has dissolved and figs have released their juices, turn heat to high and bring to a boil.
- Stir periodically.
- Once fully thickened (the syrup should be slowly dripping off your spoon, or sticking to it), remove from heat.
- Spoon jam into glass jam jars and let cool.
- Cover with lids and place in fridge for consumption within 10-14 days OR properly can/preserve them and store for later use.