Figs are the edible fruit of the Ficus tree, a member of the mulberry family. There are many different varieties, varying in colour and texture.
They can be eaten both fresh and dried, and with their smooth skin, chewy flesh and crunchy seeds, they provide a unique combination of textures.
Ficus trees produce their best fruit in hot, dry areas with plenty of water for their roots, and South Australia is an ideal climate for them to thrive in.
Containing high levels of natural sugars, figs were often used as a sweetener in the days before refined sugars. They also contain high levels of potassium, fibre, calcium, magnesium and iron, as well as vitamins A, E and K.
Figs can be served fresh in salads and on cheese platters, or poached or baked and served with meats or in dessert dishes.
Fresh and dried figs can be found at the Adelaide Showground Farmers’ Market at The Food Forest, Willabrand, McLaren Vale Orchards, N&M Tsimiklis, Gerry Bariamis, Cooinda Proprietors and Fat Goose Fruits stalls. Adelaide Showground Farmers’ Market runs on Sundays from 9am – 1pm at the Adelaide Showground, Leader Street, Wayville.
At the Willunga Farmers’ Market, McLaren Vale Orchards has dried figs at its stall and Beach Organics will have certified organic figs ready by late February. Willunga Farmers’ Market is open on Saturday from 8am to 12.30pm.
Also on Saturday mornings, at the new Gawler Farmers’ Market, The Food Forest and N&M Tsimiklis will have fresh figs. Gawler Farmers’ Market is open from 8am to noon at the Gawler Visitor Information Centre, 2 Lyndoch Road, Gawler.
Willunga Farmers’ Market stallholder Jill Trewartha, from Do Bee Honey, suggests using figs to create a simple and delicious sweet fig and honey jam using 250g of fresh figs, 125g of lucerne honey and the juice of half a lemon.
Slice the figs and place them in a saucepan on low heat with the honey and lemon. Bring to the boil gradually, stirring constantly. Allow to boil for around 10 minutes, or until jam is thick and setting point is reached.
The new marketing and communications coordinator for the Willunga Farmers Market, Lyndall Vandenberg, has supplied the following recipe for Fig, Mushroom & Lemon Thyme Bruschetta, which she suggests can be served as a light lunch, snack or canapé.
“This palate-pleasing bruschetta with delicate flavours and complementing textures is impressive,” she says. “The combination is versatile so try teaming it with kale instead of spinach, or move the bread to the side and serve it with goat cheese or a creamy blue cheese and cured or roasted meats or game birds.”
Fig, Mushroom & Lemon Thyme Bruschetta
12 ripe figs, cut into 2 to 3 slices
6 Swiss brown mushrooms, sliced
2 tbsp very finely chopped red onion
1 clove garlic, very finely chopped
2 tbsp lemon thyme leaves, plus extra to serve
2 big handfuls baby spinach
Extra-virgin olive oil
Generous squeeze of lemon juice
4 slices crusty bread, grilled or toasted
Coat a non-stick frying pan with a little olive oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Add the figs, flesh side down, and cook for a few minutes until brown and caramelised. Turn over and repeat on other side. It’s important to cook the figs on high heat for a short time to ensure the best flavour and shape. Remove figs from the pan and set aside.
Add a little more olive oil to the pan and add onion and garlic. Stir often and cook for a few minutes or until soft and well-coloured. Add the mushrooms and sauté for a few minutes until browned and cooked. Next add spinach and cook until it begins to wilt. Return figs to pan along with the thyme leaves, a generous squeeze of lemon juice and salt to taste. Stir to combine.
Brush the toasted bread with a little olive oil and arrange on four plates. Divide the fig mixture between the four plates and place on the bread. Scatter a few extra thyme leaves to finish. Serve immediately.
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