Credit: Carolyn Herriot


I’m so excited … it looks as if I will have ripe figs from my ‘Italian sweet’ fig tree, Ficus carica. I consider figs to be the nectar of the Gods, and eating them a heavenly experience. They are high in simple sugars, minerals and fibre, and contain high levels of potassium, calcium, magnesium, iron, copper and manganese. Dried figs contain an impressive 250mg of calcium per 100g, compared to whole milk with only 118mg.

TIP: Ripe figs do not keep well. They should not be washed until ready to eat, and should be kept refrigerated, where they will remain fresh for only two days.

Native to the Middle East, figs were one of the first fruits ever to be cultivated. The best harvests come from fig trees grown in hot dry conditions, where their roots are confined. A half oak barrel works very well (bring under cover in winter), or try them beside the pathway up against the house.

Being soft wood, figs are a delight to prune, and tip cuttings root very easily. Keep your tree well pruned in early spring so that there will be more fruit and less foliage.

Easy Summer Fig Ideas:
Add chopped fresh figs to fruit salads.
Poach fresh figs in red wine and serve with yoghurt or ice cream.
Add quartered figs to a salad of fennel, arugula and shaved Parmesan cheese.
Fresh figs stuffed with cream cheese and chopped nuts make easy hors d’oeuvres.

(Makes four servings)

16 oz (450g) mixed salad greens
4 large fresh figs, cut into eighths
2 tbsp. (30 ml) coarsely chopped walnuts
Blue Cheese Dressing
2 oz. (60 g) soft blue cheese, such as Gorgonzola
2 Tbsp. (30 ml) light sour cream
1 Tbsp. (15 ml) walnut oil
1 1/2 Tbsp. (22 ml) white wine vinegar
2 tbsp. (30 ml) apple juice
Pinch sugar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Blue Cheese Dressing: In a bowl, mash cheese with sour cream. Gradually stir in walnut oil, vinegar, apple juice and sugar until well combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Arrange salad greens onto four individual serving plates.
Arrange figs on top of salad greens.
Spoon dressing over salad and sprinkle with walnuts.

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