Fig

Fig

Plural:
Figs
Family:
Moraceae – Mulberry family
Species:
Ficus carica

Origin

Figs originate from the Orient and have appeared for a millennia in different cultural regions. For example, in ancient Egypt they were used as remedies, in the Bible there is the story of the fig tree that Jesus of Nazareth withered, the Buddha became enlightened under a fig tree, and in ancient Rome, the she-wolf is said to have nursed Romulus and Remus underneath a fig-tree.

Plant

The fig trees of the Mediterranean have spawned two two varieties: The Capri-fig, which in inedible, and the cultural fig. These small trees carry either male or female blooms. The fruits come from the female blooms — either without pollination or with the help of the gall wasp: The insect only puts its eggs in the masculine flourishes of the Capri-fig. Then in search of a new breeding area, the hatched young gall wasps bring the masculine pollen of the Capri-fig to female blooms of the cultural fig. From this phenomenon, the best fruits are born — Smyrna figs with amber flesh.

Cultivation

Nowadays figs are cultivated in the Mediterranean, the subtropics of the USA, South America, South Africa and Australia. Thick-shelled varieties develop in spring from the first early bloom or grow in high positions with a rougher climate, figs with fine and thin shell are typical summer fruits with a lot of aroma. Unfortunately the bright and golden-brown honey figs from Greece cannot be transported because of the wafer-thin shell.

Importations

They are imported all year round. Turkey delivers from August to October, Greece and France in August and September, Italy in September and October, Israel in October and November, Brazil from December to July.

Fruit

Edible:
The whole fruit.
Flavour:
Sweet, slightly acidic with the typical aroma of fig.
Size:
The are between 3 and 7 cm long and 4 to 6 cm in diameter.
Weight:
They weight from 30 g to 80 g.
Shape:
Pear-shaped or drop-shaped.
Bowl:
Thin and are either green, dark-violet or yellow, depending on the variety.
Flesh:
They can be pinkish to crimson with numerous tiny seeds; sweet and very juicy.
Ripeness:
The fruits are soft and tend to easily burst; green varieties from Italy remain green; green-yellow ones must become really yellow; the violet varieties lose the green spots and dye uniformly violet.
Overripe fruits:
mushy, start to ferment.
Unripe fruits:
Firm; violet fruits show greenish spots on the shell; very immature fruits still contain chyle.

Usage

They may be eaten fresh, put in sweet dishes or added to to raw ham, salami and cheese or even stewed as a side dish.

Storage

Ripe fruits should be stored for a maximum of 2 days or 1 day at room temperature. At post-maturation, they should be stored at room temperature and put on a soft base.

Tip

The chyle in very immature figs can cause skin irritations and itching.