Figs are native throughout the tropics and some of the warmer temperate regions, and are particularly abundant across large parts of Asia, the Mediterranean and southern France. The fig tree and its fruit is an important symbol in Buddhism, Hinduism and Jainism and is considered sacred in many cultures. We also know that the fig has often been regarded as an aphrodisiac form much of human history, with Cleopatra herself reportedly becoming infatuated with this sensuous fruit, with it’s rich purple colour and a sumptuous sweet flavour.
They make an easy, yet satisfying starter dish with mozzarella, parma ham and a drizzle of honey, or in a salad with greens and almonds. They also tend to pair well with rich and creamy food, making them an ideal addition to a cheese board or set custard desserts (they work with mozzarella, ricotta, mascarpone or even blue cheese). Figs are delicious raw, of course, but become even sweeter when lightly roasted, where they take on a luscious caramelised flavour. You can also use the dried fruit to great effect to add tanginess and richness to meaty stews. Try serving lightly fried or grilled figs with a venison steak and a peppery green salad for an exciting and seasonal dish. They also work well in desserts, like sweet tarts or cheesecakes, muffins or bread – cooked or raw. Fig jam is another great way to preserve this fruit. Cocktail making is another, quite fun way of using up your fig fruit – simply muddle with dark spirits, like bourbon or dark rum and add fruit juice (like orange, grapefruit or lychee) and sweeten to taste (if it is too sweet, add a squeeze of lemon).