What Are Figs?
Figs grow on trees that prefer dry, sunny locations. They belong to the mulberry family and can be eaten fresh or dried, both equally as popular as another.
Contrary to popular belief, figs are not fruits. They are in actual fact inverted flowers and seeds that are pollinated by a species of tiny wasps. Mind blown? Totally!
The flesh of the figs are actually tiny flowers. Where it becomes interesting is that because it blooms internally, it requires the help of these wasps to do the work for them.
The fertilisation process occurs when the female wasp enters the male fig through a very small passage. So small that it breaks its wings and therefore can’t get back out.
The female wasps then lay eggs. The job of the male wasps is to dig tunnels for the newborn female wasps to exit the fig. The female wasps then carry the pollen to find a new fig and the cycle continues.
To lessen the “gross” factor of this notion, we only eat the female figs. This is the fig whereby female wasps accidentally pollinate female figs causing the flower to grow inside. So fascinating!
What Do Figs Taste Like?
Flavour: Figs can be intensely sweet with honey-like undertones. It is considered to be one of the sweetest fresh produce on the market.
Texture: Figs have bell shape, slightly leathery skin and can come in a myriad of colours including brown, purple, green and black.The entire fruit from skin to seeds are soft.
When picking up the fruit, it’s important not to handle them too roughly as they bruise easily. This fragile fruit also spoils easily so when selecting your figs, be sure to check each one before purchasing.
What Goes Well with Figs?
Fruit and Vegetables
Apple, blackberry, blood orange, elderberry, honeydew, nectarine, orange, peach, pear, persimmon, raspberry, spinach, tamarind.
Herbs, Nuts & Spices
Almonds, basil, cardamom, cinnamon, coriander, hazelnuts, mint, rosemary, thyme, vanilla, walnuts.
Protein and Other
Bacon, balsamic vinegar, blue cheese, caramel, goat cheese, honey, prosciutto, turkey.
How to Use Figs in Salads?
Fresh figs are best consumed in all its natural glory. Just cut them up in wedges and add to your salad. The skin of the fig is edible but you can certainly peel them if you wish.
I wouldn’t toss it through the salad however as it’s so fragile. Place your salad on the platter and tuck the figs in between and on top.
You can also roast your figs, which is what we love to do too. Drizzle some balsamic vinegar, honey, maple syrup or au naturale.
The fig takes on a very moist, soft consistency and if at all possible, even a little sweeter as it releases all its sugars. Grilling figs are also a thing, especially good if you’re only wanting a slight caramelisation on the surface.
Salad Recipes with Figs
Nothing quite beats drizzling honey over freshly sliced figs except the accompaniment of mangos and toasted pine nuts. This fig salad epitomises the summer months and perfect for those long lunches under the warm sun.
Sweet balsamic roasted figs layered over a bed of crispy halloumi cheese is a fantastic way to start any meal and get the taste buds salivating.
Nothing quite screams the ultimate summer salad recipe than one that incorporates all the wonderful summer fruits. Brown Turkey figs, red currants and blackberries, all beautifully combined to make a super simple savoury salad.
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