Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ficus carica The Fig

From a horticultural point of view ,the fig tree is one of the easiest fruit trees to grow and in fact will react to over-fertile soils by producing very little fruit. If planting one, the trick is to fill the planting hole with some old concrete rubble and don't bother to remove the black plastic planter bag it was grown in,as they like to have their roots constricted . Thus imitating their natural habit of growing out of old walls in Mediterranean countries.That said ,a mulch of some cow manure in spring would suffice as fertilizer to keep them producing well. There are several varieties available with both purple or green skin and trees will start to fruit within three years of planting. All fig trees need to be netted once the fruit has formed to protect them from birds.
It has been a good hot summer for the ripening of figs and they are just starting to make an appearance at the local growers' market. You need to eat them just after they have been picked as ripe figs oozing sugar only last for a few days before starting to ferment or forming a layer of grey mould over their soft skin. Apart from eating them fresh, I like to have them wrapped in thin slices of prosciutto di Parma washed down by a glass of icy cold VB or crisp white wine. As a dessert ,I oven bake them for 15 minutes with brown sugar and a little butter. The resulting figs are swimming in caramel sauce which can be poured over ice-cream. A little lime zest on top makes them taste even better. I recently had figs in a salad made for a lunch by some Greek friends. The figs were accompanied by walnuts, goat's cheese and watercress . The combination was fantastic.
If you do have any left over figs or have a huge crop, they can be dried or preserved by placing them in jars and covering with alcohol such as a good port. The resulting drunken figs would be ready for eating by winter to remind you of the joys of summer.
2017 update Its the 5th of February and the figs have already been picked so are they ripening sooner now?

1 comment:

  1. if you are able to send the fig cuttings to malaysia, please let me know.