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Food

Health Benefits of Fresh Figs and Recipes to Enjoy

September 5, 2020

Fresh figs are a late summer treat. Not only delicious, figs are also packed with health benefits, since they are high in natural sugars, minerals, and fiber. Rich in minerals including potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron and copper, figs are a good source of antioxidant vitamins A and K that contribute to health and wellness. Figs can help those watching their weight since high fiber foods help you feel fuller longer and reduce cravings. Along with fiber, figs also contain prebiotics which work with the good bacteria in your system to improve digestive health.

Fig trees have been cultivated since ancient times and their fruit is enjoyed fresh and dried wherever the trees thrive, usually in warm, dry climates. In other areas where the climate is a bit more harsh than in Greece, older fig trees are more likely to survive with careful pruning of dead branches, which allows for new growth.

For immigrants, something as simple as a tasty fig at the end of the summer offers a flavorful connection to the homeland, bringing back memories of home, people, and places

If you happen to have a few extra figs around, try the following jam recipe. Making it at home is relatively easy and helps prolong the taste of summer just a bit longer. The fig cake or sikopita is also a great way to enjoy the tasty fruits. Fig cakes are not only made in Greece, they are also popular in the Southern United States and in the Appalachian regions. Ocrachoke, NC hosts an annual fig festival where a fig cake contest is held, however, this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a Virtual Fig Cake Bake-Off was held.

Fig Jam

1 pound fresh figs

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Wash and prepare the figs by removing the stems, peeling, if preferred, and cutting in half or quarters. Place the chopped figs in a saucepan with the sugar and lemon juice and bring to a boil over medium high heat. Skim off any foam that may rise to the top. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the walnuts and cook 5 minutes more, then remove from heat. The jam may seem thin, but it sets as it cools. Pour into a glass jar or container with an airtight cover and store in the refrigerator. If preferred, pour the jam into sterilized jars, cover with cap, and process in boiling water for about ten minutes. Store in the refrigerator.

Fig Cake

2 cups fresh figs

2 cups all-purpose, unbleached flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon Greek sea salt

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

A pinch of cloves

1 cup sugar

1 cup Greek extra virgin olive oil

4 eggs

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 cup chopped walnuts

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch ring mold or bundt pan. Wash the figs and remove stems. If preferred, peel the figs and set aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and cloves. Set aside. In a separate bowl, mash the figs and add the sugar, olive oil, eggs, and vanilla extract. Beat well. Add the fig mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just combined. Fold in the chopped walnuts. Pour the cake batter into the prepared cake pan and bake in the preheated oven for about 45 minutes or until golden brown and a cake tester comes out clean.

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