Outdoor activities with a healthy dose of curiosity, brought to you by Laure Latham
August 1, 2012
Fig trees have always fascinated me, if only because of the sweet scent of their broad green leaves carried by the wind on sizzling days. When I smell a fig tree, I am immediately transported to a land of summer days by the sea, fauns dancing drunk on limestone cliffs and sea caves hiding mythical creatures. Figs are a sort of a time-traveling fruit direct to us from the Odyssey.
In my dad’s yard, there is a big beautiful fig tree and right now it is laden with figs but they are all green – as in unripe green. Tough, not readily edible, not green as opposed to black since they are black figs-to-be. Impatient as ever to do something with this natural bounty, I searched for green fig recipes hoping to score a green fig chutney. A few clicks later, I realized all green fig chutney recipes used the ripe green fig. However thanks to a Greek recipe called Syko Glyko, I found a way to preserve the figs in a wonderful syrup. My impatience has turned to anticipation since now, I’ll save them to savor over cold wintry days. I also realize the reason why green figs are used in this recipe rather than ripe figs. Green figs retain their shape after an hour of boiling. Ripe figs would turn to mush.
Source: The Greek Cookbook – by Tess Mallos
There is an extra step mentioned in GardenGuides.com that I skipped as I tasted the figs and they were good to me. It’s before you put the figs and syrup into jars. If you want to be thorough, you should boil the figs in syrup again until the syrup test. Here’s what it’s like: drip a little syrup onto a cold plate. If the drops do not spread, the syrup is ready. If you have a sugar thermometer, cook to a temperature of 105 C (220 F).
If you have neighbors, friends or relatives with fig trees in cold climates that don’t allow the figs to ripen over the season, this would be a perfect recipe to use those figs. Have fun!