December 30, 2020 by A.Asma
Ripe figs: A hidden treasure
Fig trees feature in human history, myths, and religions. In early Egyptian mythology, it represents ‘’the Tree of Life’’. Ancient Egyptians believed that when they died, Goddess Hathor would appear in a fig tree and welcome their souls to heaven. In the tradition of Cyprus, the fig was the ultimate symbol of fertility. Ficus is also associated with many religions in India and Kenya. Buddhists believe that Buddha ‘’attained enlightenment under a fig tree''. For ancient Kikuyu, the tree is created in a way to communicate with God. (Ladders to Heaven- published as Gods, Wasps and Strangles in North America). In the Bible, the leaves of the tree clothed Adam, and Eve after eating from the ‘’forbidden tree'', ''each man under his vine and fig tree’ ’is another biblical quote refer to peace. The fruit is also cited in a significant surah in Quran named ‘’The fig’’ (in Arabic al tin) and starts with ''by fig and the olive''. Including the food found in the Promised Land is the fig fruit (according to the Torah).
Fig is among the oldest plants to be cultivated since 5000 BC; it is extended from AsiaticTurkey to Northern India. Warm climates are ideal to grow fresh and dried figs for this ‘’the poor man’s food’’ is widely cultivated in the Mediterranean regions. The tree is from 3 feet to 33/39 feet high with rough leaves. (Britannica)
After purchase, ripe figs should be kept in the fridge and consumed within two days (must wash them before eating). You are free to consume them either peeled or unpeeled. Figs are a great source of energy so you can add them to your breakfast, dessert, or salad.
- It is esteemed that there are over 800 varieties of fig trees in the world, and these are the most popular:
- Brown Turkey: Ficus Carica "Brown Turkey”
The fruit has red-purplish color and sweet taste; Its tree is about 30 feet that needs rich soil with average water. This heat-loving fruit is suited for the Mediterranean climate.
- Celeste: Ficus Carica”Celeste”
It is up to 10 feet and known for its ability to adapt at 15°F temperature. The cold- fruit is widely cultivated in the South-eastern US and is generally praised for its sweet fresh flavor and "rose-colored flesh”.
- Chicago Hardy: Ficus Carica “Chicago Hardy”
One of the “finest fruiting fig trees" with over 15 feet tall. The dark purple fruit is exceptionally juicy and of sweet taste. It is largely grown in Sicily, and as its name suggests, the fruit is of great resistance to cold climate. (Gardening Know How)
- Weeping Fig: Ficus Benjamina
“Recipient of the prestigious Award of Garden Merit of the Royal Horticultural Society”, is commonly grown as a houseplant in many regions. It is originally rooted in Asia, Australia, and the Pacific. Although it grows slowly, the tree, 50 feet in height, produces fruits twice a year.
- Indian Banyan: Ficus bengalines
The plant is native to Sri Lanka, Pakistan and, India. The oldest tree of this variety is in India, “the national tree”, and it alone covers 1.9 hectares. In Nepal, the fruit is a source of medicine for over twenty diseases.
- Aydin Incirlik:
It has been cultivated in the Mediterranean region of Aydin centuries ago. The Aydin fig is typically known for its flavourful taste.
- Black Mission Fig:
This variety was introduced to the United States in 1768. As its name suggests the fig is dark-skinned with a pleasant juicy flavor. The fruit is a good source of potassium, magnesium, and calcium.
An ancient fig variety is known since the classical Greek period. The fig was consumed by the Athenians and prized for its exceptional fresh taste. Indeed, many historical texts never failed to memorize the importance of the “Royal Black” fig in Greek traditions and religious ceremonies.
- Fiorone di Torre Canne:
This dark green variety is widely spread in the cities of Torre Canne, Savelleri, and Pozzo Faceto in the Apulian province of Brindisi, especially after the post-war era. It has a pleasingly rich taste with high energy value that can be consumed on its own or with a slice of bread.
- Figue de Solliés
The Solliés fig is immensely cultivated in the French region of Provence-Alpes-d'Azur. The violet dark fruit has a harmonic mixture of acidity and sweetness.
Figs in Tunisia are widespread and they are consumed either fresh or dried. Medenine, a town in south-eastern Tunisia known for its dry hot summers and cold winters, has large fig plantations in Arid Land Institute. The varieties of figs (based on color and size) in this region are Bayoudh, Khadhouri, Jbeli, Hammouri, Saffouri, Rogabi, Tayourijouied, Sawoudi, Zidi, Sawoudibedri. In Djerba, a town in the Tunisian north-western part, the culture of fig is extremely ancient, and the production exceeds 75% of the national figs. The fruit in this area benefits from suitable climatic conditions. The black Bouhouli figs are one of the luscious varieties in the region of Djerba. If you prefer to conserve your fig fruits. You need to preserve it nicely and learn many traditional ways to get your dried figs. Ripe figs are very beneficial to your health if you learn how to preserve them for a longer period.
Fig nutrition facts
One fig contains:
- Calories 30
- Protein 0g
- Fat 0g
- Carbs 8g
- Fiber 1g
- Copper 3% of the Daily Value
- Magnesium 2% of the DV
- Potassium 2% of the DV
- Riboflavin 2% of the DV
- Thiamine 2% of the DV
- VitaminB6 3% of the DV
- Vitamin K 2% of the DV
Fig production in the world
- Around 50 countries in the world produce more than one million tonnes of figs annually.
- Commercially, the production of fig that targeted International markets started in the early 2000s.
- According to The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) figs are cultivated in 427.000 ha.
- The plant easily adapts to the high temperatures of the Mediterranean region.
- Turkey, Egypt, Iran, Greece, Algeria, and Morocco produce 70% of the world’s figs.
- Turkey produces more than 300.000 metric tons of figs about 26% of the world’s production. 85% to 90% of the production is exported with more than 70% to the European market.
- The United States produces only 4% of the world’s production.