Common FigAugust 8, 2011 at 9:59 AM | Posted in diabetes, diabetes friendly, Food, fruits, low calorie, low carb | 4 Comments
Tags: British Columbia, Business, Cooking, De Agri Cultura, Ficus, fig, Fruits and Vegetables, United States
The Common Fig is widely known for its edible fruit throughout its natural range in the Mediterranean and Middle Eastern region, Iran, Pakistan, Greece and northern India, and also in other areas of the world with a similar climate, including Arkansas, Louisiana, California, Georgia, Oregon, Texas, South Carolina, and Washington in the United States, south-western British Columbia in Canada, Durango, Nuevo León and Coahuila in northeastern Mexico, as well as areas of Argentina, Australia, Chile, and South Africa.
Figs can also be found in continental climate with hot summer, as far north as Hungary and Moravia, and can be harvested up to four times per year. Thousands of cultivars, most named, have been developed or come into existence as human migration brought the fig to many places outside its natural range. It has been an important food crop for thousands of years, and was also thought to be highly beneficial in the diet.
The edible fig is one of the first plants that was cultivated by humans. Nine subfossil figs of a parthenocarpic type dating to about 9400–9200 BC were found in the early Neolithic village Gilgal I (in the Jordan Valley, 13 km north of Jericho). The find predates the domestication of wheat, barley, and legumes, and may thus be the first known instance of agriculture. It is proposed that they may have been planted and cultivated intentionally, one thousand years before the next crops were domesticated (wheat and rye).
Figs were also a common food source for the Romans. Cato the Elder, in his De Agri Cultura, lists several strains of figs grown at the time he wrote his handbook: the Mariscan, African, Herculanean, Saguntine, and the black Tellanian. The fruits were used, among other things, to fatten geese for the production of a precursor of foie gras.
Figs can be eaten fresh or dried, and used in jam-making. Most commercial production is in dried or otherwise processed forms, since the ripe fruit does not transport well, and once picked does not keep well.
Figs are a good source of potassium, a mineral that helps to control blood pressure. Since many people not only do not eat enough fruits and vegetables, but do consume high amounts of sodium as salt is frequently added to processed foods, they may be deficient in potassium. Low intake of potassium-rich foods, especially when coupled with a high intake of sodium, can lead to hypertension. In the Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension (DASH) study, one group ate servings of fruits and vegetables in place of snacks and sweets, and also ate low-fat dairy food. This diet delivered more potassium, magnesium and calcium. Another group ate a “usual” diet low in fruits and vegetables with a fat content like that found in the average American Diet. After eight weeks, the group that ate the enhanced diet lowered their blood pressure by an average of 5.5 points (systolic) over 3.0 points (diastolic). Figs are a good source of dietary fiber. Fiber and fiber-rich foods may have a positive effect on weight management.
Before eating or cooking figs, wash them under cool water and then gently remove the stem. Gently wipe dry.
Dried figs can simply be eaten, used in a recipe as is, or simmered for several minutes in water or fruit juice to make them plumper and juicier.
When preparing oatmeal or any other whole grain breakfast porridge, add some dried or fresh figs.
Poach figs in juice or red wine and serve with yogurt or frozen desserts.
Add quartered figs to a salad of fennel, arugula and shaved Parmesan cheese.
Fresh figs stuffed with goat cheese and chopped almonds can be served as hors d’oeuvres or desserts.