A great source of fibre and full of vitamins and minerals, dried and fresh figs have a long and illustrious history. Known for being a healthy and versatile ingredient they can add a burst of sweetness to all kinds of dishes...
Figs are the fruit of the ficus tree, which is part of the mulberry family (Moraceae). Figs have a unique, sweet taste, soft and chewy texture and are littered with slightly crunchy, edible seeds. Fresh figs are delicate and perishable, so are often dried to preserve. This produces a sweet and nutritious dried fruit that can be enjoyed all year round. There are multiple different varieties of fig, all of which vary widely in colour and texture. Their unique feature is a little bud-like opening called an ostiole at the top that helps the fruit develop. Their natural sweetness meant that, before the days of refined sugars, they were often used as a sweetener.
One of the world’s oldest trees, the fig tree can be traced back to the earliest historical documents and features prominently in the Bible. Figs are native to the Middle East and Mediterranean and were held in such high regard by the ancient Greeks that laws were once created to prevent their export.
In ancient Greek civilization, crowns which were made of fig leaf were worn on the heads with honor as the symbol of fertility. Giving fig leaf as a gift had always been regarded as a way of honoring someone for centuries. Fig had such great importance for human being that it had been mentioned as the fruit of Heaven in sacred sources.
Siddharta Guatama was also said to have formed the basics of Buddhism while he was sitting under a fig tree, which in a way inspired him.
Old Testament, which often mentiones about fig, is full of imageries and metaphors inspired by fig. Sitting under the shade of a fig tree or tasting the fruit of a fig tree meant the existence of peaceful and tranquil life.
The Jewish people, even currently, eat fig as a traditional food at the celebration of their Fısıh Festival.It is also being mentioned in the Bible as the fruit which is grown in Heaven and as being a sacred fruit, fig is thought to be necessary food of New Year celebrations.
It is also said that Hz. Mohammed had a saying about fig: “If I were given a chance, I would like to take fig with me to Paradise”
Fig tree had been used as a symbol in all great cultures and religions.
Even though fig is known to have been grown during Sumerian and ancient Egyptian Era, Anatolian lands is regarded as the homeland of fig. The historian Herodotus, in a praiseworthy way, mentioned about excellent fig which grew in Anatolia in 484 B.C. “Ficus carica”, which is the name of fig in science of botanic, was originated from an ancient site “Caria” in Aegean Region. Fig, in the next years, spread to Middle East, India and China through Anatolia and got a widespread fame all over the world.
The developments in modern science have proven the fact that fig has an enormous nutrient value as well as extraordinary flavor and taste it has. First of all, fig, among all fruits and vegetables, is the one which has the most fiber. Roughage affects digestive system positively, causes cholesterol to be removed without getting mixed with blood and prevents beforehand some cancer types from becoming active. Only five dried figs are enough for the whole fiber need of body.
According to the research of scientific men, dried fig has left other fruits behind in terms of rich phenol combination it has regarding antioxidant. On the other hand, fig also intensively includes Omega-3 and Omega-6 fat acids and fitosterol, which are not made by the body and have to be taken outside. Fat acids have indispensable importance in order that brain and nervous system function healthily and fitosterol, on the other hand, helps cholesterol, which is dangerous for cardiovascular health, to be removed out of the body without getting mixed with blood.
Fig is also the richest fruit in mineral. 40 gr figs are enough for 7% of daily potassium need and 6% of daily iron need. A bowl of fig provides calcium which is the same as the calcium amount of a bowl of milk provides. Fig includes protein, carbonhydrate, phosphorus, calcium, iron, sodium, potassium, magnesium and it is also rich in vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, B6, C and folic acid. Fig makes digestion easy, helps renewal of cells and prevents cancer development by means of benzaldehit it contains.