One of my favorite summer fruits is the beloved and magical fig. My grandmother had a huge fig tree in her backyard and every summer we would make fig and ginger jam. I cannot even begin to describe how delicious this jam was. And how wonderful the smell of the cooking jam was. I used to eat it on toast and straight out of the jar by the spoonfuls.
As a young girl, I just enjoyed the delicious flavor of figs and had no idea how healthy figs are for you.
Today, summer figs are always on my table and dried figs are always in my cupboard.
Figs come from a tree called Ficus cardiac L., which is a member of the mulberry family. The fig tree is native to the Asian continent and was developed in many of the Mediterranean countries as a staple food and as a delicacy. Figs can be eaten fresh, dried or made into jams.
Health Benefits of Figs
Figs are rich in antioxidants.
Antioxidants are known to help fight cancer cells as well as reduce inflammation in the body. Antioxidants are a group of molecules that help to inhibit oxidation of human cells. Oxidation of cells creates an imbalance of the cells and can result in the growth of cancer cells. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, figs are rich in the antioxidant know as polyphenols. Polyphenols help in the prevention of degenerative diseases and daily consumption of these antioxidants may help prevent diseases associated with aging.
Figs add iron to your diet.
Iron is an essential mineral for the body to produce sufficient levels of oxygen rich blood. One hundred grams of figs (about 1 serving) contains about 11% of the daily recommended amount of iron needed. For many vegans, anemia can be an issue if they are not eating foods that are rich in iron. Figs can help fight anemia.
Figs are rich in essential minerals.
Figs are rich in potassium, which can help control blood pressure. They are also a good source of magnesium and calcium as well. Figs are low in fat and very high in fiber. Although their sugar content is a bit high, the high-density fiber and other vital nutrients found in figs make them a suitable food even for people who are controlling their blood sugar. Dried figs are more concentrated with sugar, so try eating fresh figs as much as possible.
With so many health benefits associated with figs, and with their delightful taste, make summer figs part of your diet.
Fig and Ginger Jam
- 1 pound ripe figs
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 Tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 cup brown rice syrup (can substitute honey, using less amounts)
- 1/2 cup agave syrup
- Wash figs, trim the stems, and cut into small pieces.
- Place all ingredients into a large pot with a heavy bottom.
- Bring briefly to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Keep stirring and if need be, add a small amount of water to keep from sticking. Keep stirring the jam until the figs break up and have thickened nicely.
- Ladle jam into small mason jars and let cool. Place lids on jars and store in the refrigerator.
Enjoy this jam for up to two weeks in the fridge! Try it on toast, on ice cream, in yogurt or just by the spoonful.