FIG- The Blessed Fruit!
Last weekend I summoned up a plan to surprise my aunt with an unannounced visit to her house. After my aunt managed to conceal her elation of my presence at her doorsteps, she took me inside via a lane with trees on either side. My eyes fell on Guava trees, Banana tress and many of which I could very well recognize. But one tree stood out to my knowledge, its leaves were forked to five like fingers and the fruits were bell-shaped, with a wide, flat bottom and a narrowed pointed top. Curious, I inquired my aunt of it, at which she announced that I was looking at the Fig Tree” or “Anjeer ko rukh.”
My first encounter with the fruit was not as informative as I would have liked, so it took me few search engines to know what a fantastic fruit I had come across. Delicious, sweet flavored fig fruit is one of the ancient fruits enjoyed in the human history. Having its share of fame even in the pages of The Bible, Fig is naturally rich in many health benefiting phyto-nutrients, anti-oxidants and vitamins.
Fig fruit tree is native to temperate climate of Asia Minor or present dayTurkeyand today is grown as important fruit of commerce in the eastern Mediterranean region,USA,Spain. However, it is also cultivated as a fruit tree in home gardens. During each season it bears several hundred pear shaped fruits twice a year which vary in size and color depending on the variety.
Though different varieties of Figs are seen throughout the world the most common ones being:
Black Mission figs are extremely sweet (sometimes they even ooze a bit of syrup) and thus are perfect for serving plain or with yogurt or tangy fresh cheese (such as mascarpone, fromage blanc, or farmers cheese) for dessert. They have blackish-purple skin and dark pink flesh.
Brown Turkey figs have brownish-dark purple skin, a milder flavor than other figs, and are noticeably less sweet than the similar-looking Black Mission figs. Brown Turkey figs work well in salads or in desserts where a sweetener will be used.
Calimyrna figs are comparatively large, with slightly golden skin and a pinkish flesh that has a distinctive nutty flavor.
Kadota figs have light green skin and are less sweet than other figs.
Health benefits of figs:
The health benefits of figs or anjeer include treatment of sexual weakness, constipation, indigestion, piles, diabetes, cough, bronchitis, and asthma. It also helps in gaining weight after illness. Fig fruit is low in calories. 100 g fresh fruits provide only 74 calories. However they contain health benefiting soluble dietary fiber, minerals, vitamins and pigment anti-oxidants that contribute immensely for optimum health and wellness.
- Dried figs are excellent source of minerals, vitamins and anti-oxidants. In fact dried fruits are concentrated sources of energy. 100 g dried figs provide 249 calories.
- Compounds in fig fruit help scavenge harmful oxygen from the body and thereby protect us from cancers, diabetes, degenerative diseases and infections.
- Chlorogenic acid in these berries helps lower blood sugar levels and control blood glucose levels in type-II diabetes mellitus (Adult onset) condition.
- Dried figs are excellent sources minerals like calcium, copper, potassium, manganese etc. Potassium in an important component of cell and body fluids that helps controlling heart rate and blood pressure.
Selection and Storage:
Figs are available all around the season; however they are best available from May through November. Fig fruits perish rather very quickly and eaten while they are fresh or else should be placed in the refrigerator where they keep well for 2-3 days. Place them in a plastic or zip pouch and store in the refrigerator set with high relative humidity. However dried figs can stay for 6-8 months.
Figs must be allowed to ripen fully on the tree before they are picked. To eat fresh fruits wash them in cold water, mop them dry gently using soft cloth or tissue. One may eat fresh figs whole, or peeled. If taken out from the cold storage, place in a bowl of water to bring them back to normal room temperature to enrich their taste and palatability.
A fruit with such health benefits is hard to ignore, its nutritious quality also gives it the title of the “Blessed Fruit”, but be careful not to like it too much as it on excessive intake cause diarrhea and tooth decay.
Flower Please? – Fun Fact:
There are no flower blossoms n Fig trees, instead, the flowers blossom inside of the fig fruit. The tiny flowers actually produce the seeds inside the fruit, which give them a crunchy texture when eaten.