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Fig Fruit Preserves

Fig Fruit Preserves

 

Greek Dried Figs   from Kalamata

Greek Dried Figs
from Kalamata

 



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Sweet Figs

The Mediterranean region produces about 1.6 million U.S. tons (1.5 million tonnes) of figs each year. Greece is the second largest fig-producing country after Turkey. However, with most varieties of Ficus carica, pollination is so hazardous that the fact that they have survived this long is bordering on a miracle. Over the centuries, two cultivated varieties have developed from the wild fig. According to an intricate system these two varieties depend on each other and on a particular type of gall wasp (Blastophaga psenes). The edible fig bears only female flowers with long styles, whereas the (inedible) male fig develops female flowers with short styles (gall flowers) and male flowers (and lignified fruits). Both varieties flower three times a year at the same times. The gall wasp larvae grow in the ovaries of the gall flowers. The female wasps leave the wooden-like fruits, already fertilized and laden with pollen, at exactly the time when the next generation of flowers has already opened. In their search for a suitable ovary in which to lay their eggs, the only flowers available to them are the gall flowers with their short styles, because their egglaying pipe is too short for the long styles of the edible fig flowers. In their attempts to lay eggs here too, however, they pollinate the edible fig, without damaging it with their eggs. Figs are sensitive, yields fluctuate, and their harvesting and processing requires intensive manual labour, all of which are reasons why many farmers have already given up growing them. The fruits thrive only in southern countries.
Dry Kalamata figs are rinsed under running water to remove and impurities. The cleaned, dried figs are
placed on a conveyor belt,
where any remaining
substandard ones are removed.
Only perfect fruits are put into
their commercial packaging
by hand.

T
he Fig Leaf

In the 3rd century B.C., fig leaves, thrion, were used as wrapping material. In the same way as grape leaves are used today, they were preserved in salt to reduce their bitter elements, so that tasty morsels could be wrapped up in them and eaten. The fig leaf became an important symbol of the loss of Paradise, its use betraying to God the Father how Adam and Eve had fallen from grace: "And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons." (Gen. 3:7.) Artists could not avoid using the fig leaf when portraying this theme, and as a consequence Adam and Eve were never seen without hiding their modesty in this way.

excerpts from: "Culinaria Greece"


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