Common fig or Ficus Carica, is one of the oldest fruit trees native to the Mediterranean region, more specifically the Middle East where remnants of fig cultivation dating back to 4000 – 5000 BC were found in Jordan, Syria and Iraq. The fruit was later introduced to Africa and America. Varieties of figs are countless (around 700 varieties are identified around the world) and usually their Arabic names refer to their shape, color or taste like for instance “Aswad” means black, “Biyyadeh” means white, “Abou Enek” refers to the fruit with a long peduncle (tail), “Shtawi” refers to the late variety that ripens towards the end of summer, “Aassali” indicates the sweet honey taste of the fruit, “Shammouti” means elongated and “Bouaidi” means oval etc.
Fig cultivation in Lebanon is an old agricultural activity spread around the country. In 2004, the production of white fig alone reached 9,600 tons. Fig is consumed fresh during summer days and various preserves are prepared for winter: jams are produced both from green or dry fruits, dried figs are savored during cold days with nuts and raisins, and fig molasses, a tradition that is fading away, can also be prepared.
Nutrition Corner: Figs are well renowned for their unique taste and texture that combines the smoothness of their flesh and the crunchiness of their seeds. Fresh or dried, figs are loaded with fiber and many beneficial nutrients such as vitamins A & B’s, iron, calcium, potassium and more! Enjoy your figs!
(1 medium fresh fig (50g) = 37 calories; 1 dried fig (8g) = 21 calories)
Activities on darb el karam – Food trail include harvesting figs with local producers in the West Bekaa and Higher Shouf, and participating in jams preparation, fig drying and “fig steaming” or “tehbil” in Arabic.