The fig is believed to be indigenous to Western Asia and to have been distributed by man throughout the Mediterranean area. It has been cultivated for thousands of years, remnants of figs having been found in excavations of Neolithic sites traced to at least 5,000 B.C. As time went on, the fig-growing territory stretched from Afghanistan to southern Germany and the Canary Islands. Pliny was aware of 29 types. Figs were introduced into England some time between 1525 and 1548. It is not clear when the common fig entered China but by 1550 it was reliably reported to be in Chinese gardens. European types were taken to China, Japan, India, South Africa and Australia.
Technically a single fig is a syconium containing over 1,000 tiny fruits (what are thought of as the seeds).Fresh figs are very perishable and remain in good condition for 8 days but have a shelf life of only 1 to 2 days when removed from storage.If frozen whole, they can be maintained for several months. Moreover, figs do not ripen further after picking, hence unripe figs should be avoided. The best figs are those which have a rich colour, and are plump and soft, while at the same time have unbroken skin.
Figs are rich in minerals and a good source of potassium, manganese and iron. They also contain vitamins A, B, and C and a decent amount of fibre.
Figs are an autumn harvest, but I did get some of the dried ones whichI bought the other day, thinking of making a cake…but baked these cookies instead. They came out soft and chewy (and a little squidgy in the middle) and the seeds of the figs provided that delightful crackle in every bite.
This is how I went about it-
1 and1/2 C dried figs, the hard tips removed and chopped
1 and 1/2 C water
1C of plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
2 tblsp of honey
3 tblsp of butter, at room temperature
pinch of salt
4-5 dried apricots, sliced(optional)
Boil the figs in the water, stirring continuously till the mixture thickens. Cool and keep aside.
Pre heat the oven at 180 deg cen.
Add the butter to the fig mixture and blend well.
Beat the egg and honey and add to the fig mix.
Mix the flour, baking powder and salt and add to the fig mix.
Drop tblsps of the mixture on greased baking trays, leaving some space between them.
Top with a few slices of apricot(optional).
Bake in the centre of the pre-heated oven for 25-30 minutes or till set and nicely browned. If the mixture does not come away in the finger when touched, it’s done. It will be a little soft on the inside.
Cool completely before storing in air tight containers.