Thursday, August 21, 2008

Figs, not Fig Newtons

Aren't these beautiful?

These figs came from my father-in-law's fig tree in North Carolina. The tree is huge and produces succulent, scrumptious fruit. I have to admit that before I'd met my husband I had no idea what a fig was, never even occurred to me that the figs in Fig Newtons might be some sort of fruit and not just a sugary concoction. While visiting in North Carolina we just walk by and pick and eat, they're too good to resist. No need to peel, just bite and enjoy the sticky juice dripping down your hand. The skin is fuzzy, like a peach and the inside texture reminds me of a kiwi.

Whenever we visit I have grand illusions of bringing home a large bucket of plump, ripe fruit and making preserves or jam. Usually, by the time our car pulls into the garage, this is what's left of the fruit. They are the perfect size snack to pop in your mouth while driving, a lot healthier that my favorite potato chips.

Some fig facts:

*Figs are a good source of potassium, a mineral which helps to control blood pressure.

*Figs have no fat, no saturated fat, no cholesterol or sodium.

*Fig puree can be used to replace fat in baked goods.

*Charles M. Roser, a cookie maker born in Ohio, created the Fig Newtown recipe, then later sold it to Kennedy Biscuit works, which later became Nabisco.

*From Central Africa to the Far East, the fig tree is known as the Tree of Life and Knowledge.

*Fig remnants have been found in excavated sights throughout the Middle East that date back to at least 5,000 B.C.

*Cuban fig-eating bats are found in the Cayman Islands, Haiti and the Domincan Republic. Their body is only about 2.25 inches in length, but their wingspan is 13 inches.

*People born between June 14 and June 23 are considered Fig Tree people.

Several attempts at propagating our own tree have failed. We'll try again in early fall, which is the best time.

Here's a recipe for homemade Fig Newtons, I haven't tried it yet, maybe when I have an abundance of figs in my own backyard!

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