There’s something special about figs. I know. I know. You were probably thinking the same thing. 😉
But truly, what is it about figs? Jesus was obviously fond of them, well…at least some of the time, unless he was emphasizing the ill-fated fig tree that refused to bear fruit…but that has no bearing here. (No pun intended). I’m talking about well-behaved fig trees. Fig trees that bear fruit. I’m talking about MY fig trees.
Ah yes, my fig trees. I have fig trees, and hence figs. To anyone in the deep south, this is not a great feat, but here in the mid-Atlantic region, it’s certainly not common to find fig trees, and even less common to find figs. Nevertheless, I have found myself utterly fascinated with the propagation, care, feeding and harvesting of figs. Perhaps the fascination comes from a distant memory of eating canned figs as a little girl. Perhaps it comes from an on-again, off-again relationship with Fig Newtons (come on, you know you’ve had a similar experience). Perhaps it’s the quiet non-conformist in me. I don’t want my fruit trees to be like everyone else’s fruit trees. Or, perhaps it’s that peculiar need to root for the underdog…I’m not really sure where the fascination came from, but I possess it all the same. And it steered me to the nursery several years ago to begin my pilgrimage as a fig farmer. (I’m not sure I like the sound of the title, “Fig Farmer,” it sounds too close to, “Pig Farmer.” But, I digress, yet again.)
When I arrived on the farm with my fig trees, my husband looked dubious. Okay…he looked at me like I had completely lost touch with reality, but I simply laughed at his incredulity and told him I would make figs happen. So, I carefully chose sheltered, sunny spots, with a western exposure (not ideal, but my husband wouldn’t let me plant them where everyone could see them on the south side of the farm), and I coddled them, and fed them. I researched fig tree care in the winter, and feeding schedules in the spring. And, after much fretting, tending and yes, praying, I was rewarded a few weeks ago, with figs. Beautiful, sweet, purple figs. I was ridiculously elated, when I drove up to the fig, “Orchard,” and discovered ripened, purple fruit hanging from the branches. I plucked them from their resting place, and proudly showed them to my husband, who, (to his credit) patted me on the head, and said, “Okay, what do you do with figs?” Uhhhhh… (*Insert snarky figgy pudding comments here.)
What DO you do with figs? I have a friend who suggested that I try to make homemade Fig Newtons, which I decided against, because I’m still in the off-again mode with Fig Newtons. I have another friend who suggested that I just eat them fresh, which I did do, and I highly recommend. Everyone should develop a taste for fresh figs.
But the truth is…I had plans all along for my beautiful figlets. (my word 😉 )I wanted to use them in my soaps. Figs were used by the ancients as a remedy for sun-damaged skin, inflammation, eczema and psoriasis. They also possess phytochemicals which may reduce the risk of some cancers. Hence, I’ve already dried, freezed and pulverized some of my figs into fig powder, and I will be using that powder in a soap I plan to make for the fall…which I will famously name (rimshot…), “Cranberry Fig Soap.”
Of course, that’s not the only way I intend to use my figs…
…ever heard of fig wine…? 😉