Nothing says summertime like picking the first fig off the tree and popping it into your mouth! These tasty fruits evoke sweet thoughts for all who have enjoyed them right off the tree or have been dazzled by a beautiful culinary fig experience. The South has long been known for its passion for figs, and rightfully so. Endless possibilities of delicious delicacies—from appetizers and desserts to main courses—are limited only by your imagination!
IT’S FIG SEASON!
It’s not quite like hunting, but it does require scaring off predators such as crows!
The battle begins: Our local crow population is on their circuit, flying from one fig tree to the next throughout the community. I have tried hanging a scarecrow and noisy pie plates and blowing my crow call to keep them off my tree. Nothing works quite as well to get them to move on as yelling and clapping my hands as I throw open the sliding glass door. I am sure if anyone saw me, they would think I had lost my mind! I wouldn’t mind sharing with the crows, but they have a nasty habit of just pecking at a fig and then moving on to another. Most of the songbirds are kind enough to eat the ones that have fallen to the ground, but not the crows! The scouts circle above, making a huge racket, and when they think the coast is clear, the flock descends to the top of the tree and ravages it. Finally, I think I have found the answer to the problem. I installed a Pest Destruct Animal Repeller near the tree. This solar-powered device emits a tone that humans cannot hear but chases away common outdoor pests. So far, it is working incredibly well. Interestingly, however, my daughter and her husband could hear it the minute they came within 50 yards, yet neither my husband nor I can hear it at all! Hmm . . . I won’t go there.
My love affair with figs
My first memories of figs are stories my mom had told me about growing up in rural Pennsylvania. Her parents settled there after immigrating from Italy, and their love for figs from the home country carried over to their new life in America. Since my mom passed on several years ago, I reminisced with my cousin Judy, who was able to find out more details. Pappy had several fig trees that he grew from cuttings. He located them on the south side of the house to protect them somewhat from the cold, harsh winters. He and grandma Maggie lovingly cared for and protected the trees over the long winter months by bending the branches and wrapping them with rags. The figs were indeed summer treats, and if there were any left for preserves, grandma Maggie would make delicious fig-filled cookies during the holidays.
For many years, I depended on the kindness of others who shared their figs with me. However, in the spring of 2008, when we moved into our new home on the Inlet, we made sure our landscaper planned a perfect location to plant a fig tree of our own. With morning and afternoon sun exposure, it has thrived, and after only a couple of years our tree began to bear fruit. I enjoy figs right off the tree, and after sharing with friends and family, it’s fun to find easy, creative ways to use the figs, so there is no waste. I did not inherit my mom’s canning gene, so I don’t even think about making preserves or relishes.
Yum, Yum, Yum
My friend Stephanie Wottrich gave me her own secret recipe: “Walk to the tree, pick figs, put them in your folded-up shirt to make a pocket. Go sit under a tree and eat them!”
FIGS WITH HONEY WITH A STING – Your taste buds will thank you!
A low-effort but unforgettable way to serve fresh figs is to stuff them with Gorgonzola cheese, then drizzle them with Bee Stung Honey (beestunghoney.com). A tantalizing taste sensation, this unique honey, infused with Szechuan flowers and natural pepper, will awaken your taste buds with an explosion of flavor. Combine these flavors, and you will have a tingling culinary experience leaving you begging for more. This unique honey is available at Seven Seas Seafood in Murrells Inlet.
Bring your Gorgonzola cheese to room temperature.
Wash and dry room-temperature figs.
Remove the stems using a small, very sharp knife.
Carefully seed the top portions of the figs, taking care not to cut out the figs’ outer flesh.
Roll the cheese into tiny balls.
With a tiny spoon, fill the cavities of the figs with cheese.
Drizzle the figs with Bee Stung Honey.
DEHYDRATING FIGS is another amazing option. Please check out this link to Jim Casada’s July Newsletter for tips to successfully hydrating figs!
There is nothing like a fig mask! Here is a very simple but effective mask.
One large fig or two small figs
One teaspoon honey or yogurt (optional)
Cut fig in half, and scrape the filling out of the skin. Mash it well.
Add honey or yogurt.
Spread mask on face, and wait three to five minutes before washing off with water.
You will feel like you have just visited a luxury spa after you experience a fig mask. I searched the Internet and loved this website, which offers eight different masks for every skin type. newlovetimes.com/
DELICIOUS AND HEALTHY FIGS
Who knew that eating figs could be so healthy? Here’s what my research uncovered.
Figs are rich in skin-friendly vitamins and contain a vast array of nutrients.
The calcium in figs is excellent to help protect bones. Figs are also rich in iron, thereby building red blood cells that carry oxygen throughout the body.
Figs are high in fiber, which helps keep cholesterol down. Studies have shown that figs lower triglyceride levels.
Eating five to six figs a day can help you lose weight, as they help burn calories and are low in sugar.
Figs are rich in magnesium, which supports muscle and bone health.
Figs are high in minerals such as calcium, potassium, phosphorus, manganese, copper, and magnesium. They’re also rich sources of vitamins A and B, which are important for proper metabolism.
Figs aid with digestion.
The potassium content of figs helps regulate blood pressure to control hypertension.
Figs are powerhouses of antioxidants, and they neutralize the free radicals in your body to help fight disease.
Did someone say, love? There is no definite scientific backup, but figs are reputed to have aphrodisiac properties. In many cultures, figs are fertility symbols.
August is the height of fig season! I hope you will have the opportunity to enjoy some figs before they are gone.
WRITTEN FOR WACCAMAW OUTDOOR MAGAZINE, AUGUST, 2020 ISSUE