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Mulberry family 

Figs are now coming into season in the hills of Tenerife, and I for one can’t wait to pick some. Figs grow on the Ficus tree (Ficus carica) which is a member of the Mulberry family and they are very nutritious. They contain 6% fibre and 4% vitamin B6, so they are very good for us ladies. They also contain 3% Potassium which helps to control blood pressure and the fibre content can have a positive effect on weight management, however, be warned – they are also a natural laxative! The leaves are also eaten in many cultures as they help to reduce insulin levels for people who suffer with diabetes.

Figs were first mentioned in the Bible and it is thought they originated in Egypt and then spread to Greece. They were revered by the Romans and regarded as a sacred fruit.

Apart from their medicinal properties, they are so good to eat. They are sticky and sweet whilst the seeds are slightly crunchy. Here are 2 of my favorite fig recipes, both of which are very simple and delicious:

PAGE 21 FIG

Fig jam

Excellent served with goat’s cheese

1K clean peeled figs

500g jam sugar (or add pectin if you have it)

300 ml water

Juice of a lemon

Put the cleaned figs in a saucepan with enough water to cover, cook for 15 minutes on a medium heat until cooked. Then add the sugar and/or pectin and add the lemon juice. (The lemon juice will help it to set if you haven’t got jam sugar or pectin). Cook until it thickens like a jam, (it should coat the back of a spoon when ready), it should take about 20 minutes.

Fig and almond cakes

175g self-raising flour

175g softened butter

175g caster sugar

175g ground almonds

3 large eggs

5 ripe figs

Flaked almonds and icing sugar to serve

Heat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas mark 4 and line a muffin tin with muffin cases.

Blitz the flour, butter, caster sugar, ground almonds and eggs in a food processor until combined. Divide between the muffin cases.

Half the figs lengthways and finely slice each half to form a fan. Place on the muffins and slightly press them down and then scatter with the flaked almonds.

Cook for about 40 minutes until golden, cool, and then sprinkle with icing sugar if desired.

by Lynne Scaife