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  • The Fun Fig

    By Judy Perin

    Fig Tree From Jerry Tommarello's Garden
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    I recently had the opportunity to enjoy a fig picked right from the tree and it immediately brought me back to my youth. Growing up Italian-American it seemed only natural to have 4 fig trees in my backyard. Of course I later found out that most of my classmates had apple trees in their backyard and that I was the rare person with the fig trees blossoming full of figs in my backyard. Not until I met my husband did I meet someone else that actually knew what it was like to stroll through your Moms garden and pick a hand full of those wonderful sweet and juicy fruits.

    Figs are said to be originally from Southern Europe, Asia and Africa. One of the earliest fruits cultivated by man, figs are also thought to be sacred by some ancient civilizations. The fig was brought to the Americas by Spanish Franciscans in the early 1500’s. They settled in California to set up Catholic Missions. The Mission Fig was given it’s name for the figs grown in these California missions. Another type of fig that is very popular is the Calimyrna Fig. It was imported to California in the late 1800’s and was then known as the Smyrna fig. When Californians began growing it they changed the name to Calimyrna Fig in honor of it being grown in their state. The country of Turkey is known for growing the Smyrna fig.

    There are a wide variety of figs grown in the world. There is the Adriatic, Celeste, Magnolia, Mission, Smyrna, Calimyrna and the Kadota. They come in different colors such as purple, white and golden. They all have a wonderful sweet flavor and all are excellent in all types of cooking and baking recipes.

    Figs are mostly sold in stores dried, candied or canned in syrup. Fresh figs can be purchased in your grocers produce department, but be sure to refrigerate them when you bring them home. You can put figs in your cereal, serve them in a salad eat them as a snack, bake them in bread or serve them in a delectable dessert. Perhaps you could make Italian Fig Filled Cookies. And for the holidays you could try a Fig Fruitcake or Fig and Walnut Biscotti packed in festively decorated jars as gifts. For a new neighbor or a sick friend why not bake them a Quick Bread with dried figs. You can send it over with a container of cream cheese or if you are adventurous a jar of homemade Fig Preserves. And of course there is the one fig item that everyone knows the Fig Newton. You could try making yourself a batch of homemade Fig Newton’s and then sit down with a big glass of milk and dunk away.

    So you see figs are not just Fig Newton’s. They are a sweet wonderful fruit that can be served in various ways and in various desserts. And if you aren’t lucky enough to be growing fig trees in your backyard then go out and purchase the dried or canned variety and try out one of the recipes I’ve linked to. If you do happen to be growing fresh fig trees in your backyard you are a lucky person. How nice it would be to walk again through the fig trees and pick a hand full and just sit in the grass and eat them one by one.

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