Figs have been cultivated from Biblical times. They are regarded as a symbol for fertility, prosperity and enlightenment. The experience of eating fresh figs is as much about look and texture as taste. Cooking figs intensifies the taste of the luscious pink flesh and tiny seeds. They grow well in a Mediterranean climate and form a part of Mediterranean cuisine. Happily figs are also grown locally in the Lockyer Valley.
I picked up some more figs from Black Boy Ridge Orchards yesterday. Ross greeted me with his usual…
“How ya goin’? Well I’m battling.”
What ever battles he is fighting, he certainly grows some beautiful fruit. Also battling along is his mother, Marg who weighed the figs for me. Now I know it is not polite to speculate on a lady’s age but Ross must be in his 50’s, so Marg could have retired by now but this is a lady who is used to working and being useful. She works in the sorting and packing shed preparing beauties like these for the market.
When I got home I began to wash and sort the figs. It’s a bit like an audition.
Some of the figs are “ugly” not the desired shape or size for the premium market. Others are a little under or over ripe. But all of them are perfect for preserves.
Chopped up no one cares about the shape and a mix of under and over ripe means a good set for jam. I flavour my Fig Jam with dusky spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and star anise. I also make a Fig and Ginger Conserve with larger chunks of fig and ginger floating in a honey-like syrup.
The “perfect figs” are put aside to be gently poached with cumquats and spices to make our Desert Figs. Others are pickled with rosemary and balsamic vinegar (Figs in Balsamic Syrup) to be used with cheese or in a Mediterranean style tagine.
So this Mother’s Day why not buy some figs as a wish for prosperity and enlightenment for the special mum in your life?
Find me at Glamorgan Vale Hand made Markets Saturday 2nd May or Margaret St Market Toowoomba Sunday 3rd May. Other wise take a drive to Forest hill Farm Stall, The Floating Cafe Grantham or the Visitor Information Centre Lake Apex Gatton to stock up.