The fig is the most talked about fruit in the Bible, referenced 43 times. The fig tree provided the first clothing mentioned and some suspect that the forbidden fruit might have been a fig rather than an apple. As a token of honor, figs were used as a training food by early Olympians, and were presented as laurels to winners like Olympic medals. At one time in Greece, they were regarded with such esteem that laws were established forbidding the export of the best quality figs. Mentioned in many Mediterranean writings, the fig is reported to have been the favorite fruit of Cleopatra, as the asp that ended her life was brought to her in a basket of figs.1 The fig tree is considered a symbol of abundance, fertility and sweetness. In Roman times, figs were considered to be restorative – to increase the strength of young people, to maintain the elderly in better health and to make them look younger with fewer wrinkles.2 Today, most of us think of the Fig Newton® when figs are mentioned. They first appeared commercially in 1891, made by the Kennedy Biscuit Works (later called Nabisco) using a machine that worked like a funnel inside a funnel, pumping out an endless cookie dough filled with fig jam.3
Figs are a highly prized and nourishing fruit that has been used to treat every known disease since ancient times. They can provide phenomenal amounts of energy and vitality to a body as well as aid in the repair and restoration of many bodily systems. As one of the most alkaline fruits available, they are rich in readily assimilative minerals, like calcium and potassium.4 They are a decadent treat when in season and can be dried or processed into jam so the pleasure can last all year.
This year our fig tree yielded enough fruit for us to make 18 pints of jam, provided enough figs to feed at least twenty families in our community and we’re still eating fresh ones every day. We save washed, 18 – egg cartons for storage to minimize mashing. For jam, you can crush figs or cook them whole. Make sure to remove any hard stems. Place 8 quarts of figs in a large pot, add 1 quart of water and bring to a rapid boil. Add a lemon or two thinly sliced and 2 cups of sugar. Simmer, uncovered for up to three hours, or until compote is reduced to half volume and thickened. Return it to a boil and add one large package of raspberry jello, boiling for one minute. Ladle hot jam into sterilized jars, cover with lids and screw on bands. Process 10 minutes, submerged in a boiling water bath. Yields 10 pints.
Billie Nicholson, editor
Other articles in the August 2014 Newsletter include: