Fresh figs are in season around the beginning of Autumn – see if you can catch them at the markets or your local green grocer. It can be a case of “now you see them, now you don’t!!”.
If you have a fig tree in your garden, this is the time of year that you may see many flying foxes coming to visit, as they feast on the fruit.
Figs and mythology
Figs feature in many ancient human cultures…
Abrahamic traditions: Figs are native to the Mediterranean region, and some depictions of the Garden of Eden feature fig trees. Adam and Eve covered themselves with leaves that are often said to be from the fig tree. In Islam, there were two forbidden trees in Eden – the fig and olive trees.
Buddhist tradition: Buddhist legend says that Gautama Siddhartha, the Buddha, attained enlightement while sitting under the bodhi tree, which is a type of fig tree. This tree is a symbol of enlightenment in Buddhism.
Greek and Roman traditions: Demeter, the Greek goddess, was welcomed into the house of a man in Attica in Greece. He treated her kindly and, as thanks for his hospitality, she gave him the first fig tree. In both Greek and Roman mythology, figs can be associated with Dionysus (Bacchus to the Romans), the god of wine and drunkenness!
Health benefits of figs
Figs have wonderful health-giving properties…
- Neutral thermal nature
- Sweet flavour
- Detoxifying action – helps skin discharges and boils
- Strengthens Stomach
- Benefits Spleen and Large Intestine
- Moistens Lung and Large Intestine
- One of the most “alkalising” foods – counteracts diets rich in meat and refined food.
- Soothes digestion and stimuates appetite: eat 1-2 fresh figs in morning and evening.
- Relieves constipation: eat 1-2 fresh figs at bedtime (especially helpful for elderly or those with “fluid deficiency”).
- Relieves dry cough and sore throat: steam until very soft 1-2 fresh figs and 2 honey-fried dates; eat 1-2 figs each day. Or use fresh figs and water to make a light soup; drink 1/2 cup soup and eat 1-2 figs, several times a day.
- Restoring energy for weakness after illness: simmer 1kg figs in water until very soft, add 750g sugar and simmer until dissolved. Take 1 teaspoon of this fig jelly each morning and evening until energy returns.
- Supportive therapy for tuberculosis and hepatitis: fig jelly as above.
- Increasing breast milk production (lactation): combine 1-3 fresh figs (or 30g dry figs) with 60g lean pork (or 100g shiitake mushrooms) and 2 red dates. Add enough water to cover and simmer until very soft. Eat once per day.
- Relieving pain in muscles and bones and numbness from rheumatism: 60g fresh figs plus 60g pork (or 1 chicken egg and 15g rice wine). Add enough water to cover and simmer for 15 minutes. Eat once a day.
- Chronic diarrhoea: Dry fry 30g dried figs until aromatic. Separately dry fry 9g dried ginger until blackened like charcoal. Put together in a pot with a little water, boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. Eat 3 times a day.
- Haemorrhoids pain and bleeding: Eat 2 unripe fresh figs morning and evening.
- Warts: Apply milk from unripe figs twice daily.
- Toothache: Rub fresh fig into the gums.
Healing with Whole Foods by Paul Pitchford
Chinese Natural Cures by Henry C. Lu
Caramel Grilled Figs
This recipe is designed for an induglent treat, a little something to have on your morning porridge or perhaps savoured after dinner with a dessert wine.
You could make a healthier version – options are given below!
- 8 fresh figs, halved lengthways
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- lemon zest
- marscapone or greek yoghurt, to serve
- Arrange figs in single layer in ovenproof dish, flesh side upwards.
- Melt butter over medium heat
- Add sugar and stir until dissolved
- Add cinnamon
- Spoon butter mix over figs, top with lemon zest
- Place under grill on medium heat and cook until gently bubbling, remove when the surface looks a little syrupy (about 8-10 mins)
- Serve with marscapone or greek yoghurt
- Coconut oil for butter
- Maple syrup, agave nectar or apple juice for brown sugar (increase quantity)
- Cashew cream for marscapone (see Spinach Soup recipe for cashew cream)