British figs have seen a remarkable growth in recent years and it’s easy to see why. Food markets across the UK are bursting with fig-inspired recipes: from cakes and bread loafs to incredible concoctions of chutneys, jams and fruit syrups.
Pairing figs with other ingredients doesn’t take much effort either – as a starter, main or dessert, they are hugely versatile; complementing all manner of salty, savoury and sweet flavours. The appearance, texture and flavour depends on the variety. The outer skin can be either blackish-purple or green in colour, almost leathery in texture, but without much taste; the inner flesh can be pink, purple or amber, with a luscious tartness given off by the pulp and seeds. They don’t have the teeth-shattering sweetness of other fruits either.
Figs are grown on the ficus tree, of the mulberry family. I often have them in my porridge in the morning; I love the chewy texture plus the slight crunch from the tiny seeds. I can eat them either dried (hard) of fresh (softer). Nutritionally, they have a good amount of soluble fibre and are full of vitamins and minerals.
Figs have also played a starring role throughout history, literature and life. For instance, they are mentioned frequently in Biblical lore. They were also the “chosen fruit” of athletes in ancient Greece and were commonly used in ancient Egypt in various burial rights. They are now a globally grown foodstuff, owing to their dispersal throughout history by travelling traders, explorers and conquerors of continents; transported around the Mediterranean and Adriatic regions, the United Kingdom (the Romans) and eventually across the Atlantic by Spanish conquistadors.
Cultivating figs at home is easier than you might think. The fig tree itself will grow perfectly well in gardens in the UK, given the right conditions for heat, light and drainage. One downside is that they do not last terribly long once picked.
For the recipe below, I’ve decided to go savoury and sweet – pairing the figs with nuts and a mild cheese.
Figs with camembert, walnuts and honey
- 100g walnut halves, toasted
- 3 figs, quartered
- 100g Camembert cheese, sliced into small chunks
- a drizzle of honey
- Arrange all of the ingredients onto a small plate.
- Drizzle over the honey and serve.