We know figs are mentioned in the Bible, starting with the creation in Genesis: 3:7
There were figs in the Garden of Eden.
In Genesis 3:7, the passage talks about how Adam and Eve became aware of their nakedness and were embarrassed after they had eaten the forbidden fruit. So they strung fig leaves together to cover themselves around the hips.
Figs are the most mentioned fruit in the Bible – over 50 times.
You’ll also see figs mentioned in Matthew, Luke, Jeremiah and Revelation.
What was the fig’s significance?
The fig represented peace and prosperity and was cultivated around 5,000 BC! Virtually everybody in Bible days was familiar with this fruit. During the first Olympics in Greece, athletes were given figs to eat and also to wear as a laurel crown. And talk about staying power – figs are still eaten today.
There are hundreds of kinds of figs. Which one represented the true fig in the Garden of Eden?
Probably the Calimyrna which is golden in color; there’s another popular fig called Black Mission which is blackish purple.
In December, you’ll find brown Turkish figs from California in the stores.
And figs are a member of the Mulberry family – we have Mulberry trees growing on our old country road.
Lots of Americans have eaten dried figs (think of fig newtons) but not many of us have eaten fresh figs. Is the taste much different?
I think fresh figs are less sweet since the drying process concentrates the sugars. Fresh figs are a part of my heritage along with dates so whenever we can get them, it’s a treat.
I like to eat them as is – they make a delicious and energy given snack.
How do you store fresh figs?
They don’t last but a few days in the refrigerator. I store them in a covered container. Now dried figs stay fresh for months in the pantry, well wrapped.
So are figs good for us nutritionally even though they’re so sweet?
Figs contain lots of fiber and potassium – fiber helps maintain weight and a good digestive system, good for your heart, blood pressure and muscles along with other bone building nutrients. They also contain antioxidants. And it’s not like eating table sugar. You get lots of good things with them. They’re chewy, and smooth and crunchy all at the same time.
And as an herbalist, I am intrigued by the fact that fig leaves have shown insulin lowering properties – there’s a liquid extract that’s made from the leaves, and figs are still used as poultices to heal inflammation or aches in some cultures today.
How do you use dried figs in your cooking?
I substitute them for raisins in baked goods, especially fruitcakes and quick breads. Add them to salads, oatmeal, or poach them in wine to serve with yogurt or cake. You can make a jam with either fresh or dried figs and it’s great on bagels, English muffins, etc.
Wonderful Fresh Fig Appetizers with Goat Cheese
I haven’t tried this with dried figs yet but intend to do so and will let you know how they turn out! Easy and delicious for entertaining.
12 fresh figs, cut in half
4 ounces herbed goat cheese (if you can’t find herbed goat cheese, use regular)
24 whole almonds
Honey and Balsamic vinegar
Preheat broiler on high. Put fig halves, cut side up, on sprayed baking sheet. Divide goat cheese among them and push one almond into the cheese on each half. Broil just until cheese is soft, about 2 minutes or so. Let cool a few minutes, and drizzle with a tiny bit of honey and balsamic vinegar. Serve.