Ficus carica, also known as the common fig, may not be so common to everyone. Figs are delectable little fruits that are not only delicious, but also offer a number of health benefits. National Fig Week is November 1st through 7th and is the perfect time to learn more about figs.
Shopping for Figs
There are more than one hundred and fifty varieties of figs. They range dramatically in color and subtly in texture. The five more popular varieties are:
- Black Mission: blackish-purple skin and pink colored flesh
- Kadota: green skin and purplish flesh
- Calimyrna: greenish-yellow skin and amber flesh
- Brown Turkey: purple skin and red flesh
- Adriatic: the variety most often used to make fig bars, have a light green skin and pink-tan flesh
Fresh figs are one of the most perishable fruits and should be purchased only a few days before you would like to eat or cook them. When in the grocery store, choose figs that have a rich, deep color and are plump and tender, but not mushy. They should have firm stems and be free of bruises. You can also smell them to check for freshness and taste. Fresh figs should have a mildly sweet fragrance.
Figs, Fiber, and Phytochemicals
Figs are an excellent source of nutrients. A serving of 3 to 5 figs, which counts as a daily serving of fruit, provides:
- Potassium, which works with sodium to help control and maintain your blood pressure at a healthy level.
- Insoluble fiber, which keeps digestion moving.
- Soluble fiber, which acts as a prebiotic by feeding the microbiome in your large intestine and helps remove excess cholesterol from your blood.
- Phytochemicals called polyphenols, which reduce oxidative cell damage, keeping your body healthy.
5 Ways to Enjoy Figs
Figs are a great way to add sweetness to dishes without adding refined sugar and can be used in both savory and sweet recipes.
- Slice figs in half lengthwise, top with goat cheese and place under the broiler for 1 – 2 minutes. Top with minced basil or mint.
- Create a glaze for steak or any meat by marinating figs in red wine and broth then reducing to a thick sauce.
- Combine oats, whole-wheat flour, and figs to make your own fig bar.
- Add quartered figs to an arugula salad for a delicious meal.
- Enjoy them just as they are! Ripe figs should be served at room temperature.
Figs are a delicious way to get your fiber while enjoying a fix for your sweet tooth. Enjoy them fresh when they’re in season late June through early fall, but they’re available dried all year round!
Your Turn To Take Action: How will you celebrate National Fig Week? Let me know in the comments below.