Recipe: Perfectly delicious preserved figs

Emma Crowhurst's preserved figs

Emma Crowhurst's preserved figs - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Emma Crowhurst Chef, writer, cookery teacher and food lover

If you are lucky enough to have your own fig tree, the last of the fruit will need to be picked, in season in the UK during September and October.

Due to the difficulty of transporting ripe figs undamaged, the very best are only found in the countries where they grow. If you are fortunate enough to be in a Mediterranean country during the season, be sure to try a local, freshly picked fig to experience how they should REALLY taste.

Although dried figs are available throughout the year, there is nothing like the unique taste and texture of fresh figs. They are lusciously sweet with a texture that combines the chewiness of their flesh, the smoothness of their skin, and the crunchiness of their seeds. California figs are available from June through September and some European varieties are available through autumn.

Figs grow on the Ficus tree (Ficus carica), which is a member of the mulberry family. They are unique in that they have an opening, called the “ostiole” or “eye,” which is not connected to the tree, but which helps the fruit’s development by increasing its communication with the environment. Figs range dramatically in colour and subtly in texture depending upon the variety. The majority of figs are dried, either by exposure to sunlight or through an artificial process, creating a sweet and nutritious dried fruit that can be enjoyed throughout the year.

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Figs are a good source of dietary fibre and fibre-rich foods are important when you are trying to lose weight or maintain a low weight.

They are also a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps to control blood pressure. Since many people not only do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, but do consume high amounts of sodium as salt is frequently added to processed foods, they may be deficient in potassium. Figs are rich in minerals and are also a good source manganese and iron and vitamins A, B and C.

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