One of the most delightful findings about figs is their use as a fat substitute in baked goods. Figs retain moisture in baked goods by simply using half the amount of fig puree as you would use butter or oil. Personally, I cannot use butter in recipes due to its immediate effects on my body. Coconut oil was once my saving grace until blood work indicated an immune response to coconut & most nuts. As most of us know, a challenge with gluten-free & paleo baking is the dry and unpleasant consistency even with traditional butter & oil. After endless experimentation, I found that figs truly do make an excellent sweetener and binder.
Since delicate and perishable, figs are often dried. Commercial dried figs may be treated with sulfur dioxide gas during processing as well as sulfites to extend shelf life. Federal regulations prohibit the use of these preservatives in organically produced figs. Therefore, purchasing organic figs and drying them at home will reduce exposure to these poisons.
Scroll down to learn how to dehydrate your own figs!
For food nerds like myself, here are a few FUN FIG FACTS:
- Three large fresh figs contains 5.5 grams of dietary fiber. That's more fiber than in 1 cup of oatmeal or a slice of a Double Fiber Wheat Bread.
- About 4 figs contain 162 milligrams of calcium. (16 percent of your daily recommendation). Half a cup of figs and half a cup of milk contain the same amount of calcium.
- Known as the "fruit of the gods," figs have been enjoyed since the earliest accounts of human civilization. Tracing back to the 9th century B.C. where figs became a staple in ancient Greece and a food source for Olympians. Fast track to modern day, California remains the largest producers of figs in addition to Greece, Portugal, Turkey, and Spain.
For more info about Figs: www.whfoods.com
Dehydrate your own fresh figs:
- Select only ripe figs for drying (immature figs will not dry properly)
- Gently remove stems and slice in half
- Bring a large pot of water to boil. In a stainless steel basket, dip the figs into the water for 30 seconds. Immediately dip into a prepared bowl of ice water. (This procedure is called “checking.” It weakens the skin, allowing the figs to dehydrate faster).
- Place checked figs onto dehydrator trays. Dehydrate 8-10 hours or until completely dry.
- Or, set your oven to 140F degrees for 24 hours.
- The figs should be leathery and chewy.
Dehydrated figs make an excellent backpacking (or any adventure) snack.