One of the first plants ever to be cultivated, more than 11,000 years ago in the Jordan Valley, the common fig is enjoying something of a resurgence. We humans are now well versed in its myriad health benefits, which include a high-fibre content, and its provision of an array of essential minerals such as magnesium, manganese, calcium and potassium. It has long been used in jams and cereals, but in more recent years, its range of uses has been expanded to encompass yogurt, tea, energy drinks and even chewing gum. In savoury dishes, the robust sweetness it contributes means that such menu items as bacon-wrapped figs, and prosciutto-and-fig pizza have become commonplace.
Now the fig’s global popularity is being recognised by the world’s largest privately owned flavour-and-fragrance company Firmenich as it names the fruit its Flavour of the Year for 2018. Matthew Walter, the company’s head of culinary, says of figs’ complexity that ‘They’re lusciously sugary with a texture that combines the chewiness of their flesh, the smoothness of their skin and the crunchiness of their seeds’, while Chris Millington, head of the flavour division, reports that ‘Fig-flavoured products have grown by more than 80% between 2012 and 2016.’
With wellness and authenticity trends continuing to top the consumer market, and health-conscious foodies looking to replace processed sugar with alternative natural sweeteners, the fig’s renaissance is surely set to continue.
Image courtesy of Pixabay
Content: courtesy of Flavour Feed