Just after we got back from or wedding in beautiful Cuba, I visited my fried Jeff who gave me about 5 lbs of beautiful fresh figs from his fig tree in the back yard. We had a chance to catch up over a frosty lager and chat about the summer garden harvest!
If you’ve never had a fresh fig you have to try one. They are available in Vancouver from about July through early September and they are one of the most delicious, and beautiful fruits I know, not to mention probably one of the earliest fruits known to man. They have a chewy texture and a beautiful sweet smell and were believed to be the favourite fruit of Cleopatra. How’s that for a little history lesson?
The rich potassium content of figs helps to maintain good blood pressure in the body. They are rich in dietary fiber (and we all could use a little more of that!), and even the leaves of the fig plant have healing properties. According to numerous sources, eating fig leaves can help diabetic patients reduce the amount of insulin they have to take! That’s really amazing (although you may want to look into this a little further before you chow down on he foliage)!
A few other tidbits on the fig fruit:
- Consuming figs helps to reduce the risk of breast cancer.
- Calcium and potassium present in figs prevent bone thinning and help to promote bone density.
- Tryptophan, present in figs, induces good sleep and helps get rid of sleeping disorders like insomnia.
- The soluble fiber, called pectin, in figs helps in reducing blood cholesterol.
- Figs are rich in calcium and are excellent calcium alternatives for people who do not consume dairy products.
- Figs promote the overall well-being of an individual and are excellent as an aphrodisiac.
Fresh figs unfortunately only last about 2 days in the fridge, so I had to have a plan for these 5 lbs, and what better idea that to utilize one of our favourite wedding gifts! The ice cream maker… (thanks Catie, Jenny, Steve and Marianne!).
I referenced a recipe in one of my favourite books of all time, The Vegan Scoop by Wheeler Del Torro for fig ice cream. Because figs are so sweet (especially when cooked down which is what we are going to do here) I cut out most of the sugar that the recipe calls for (3/4 of it actually) and replaced what refined sugar I was going to use with agave nectar. I’m glad I did. This ice cream was still sweet and creamy. Delicious! I also made a few other adjustments that made this ice cream my own:
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30-40 minutes
Freeze Time: 25 minutes
**I should mention here that this ice cream is a two-step process because we need to cook down the figs and then let them cool before we add them to the ice cream maker. So, if you are planning on making this for guests, keep in mind you will need to start it the day before, or buy fig preserves as an alternative.
1 cup non dairy milk (I used coconut milk from Turtle Mountain)
20 fresh figs, chopped, or 1 cup of fig preserves
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup agave nectar
pinch of salt
2 cups full fat coconut milk
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tbsp vanilla extract
In a saucepan, place the figs (fresh), water, agave, and pinch of salt. Cook over medium heat stirring occasionally until the mixture becomes thick, rich, and jam like. You want most (if not all) of the water to be cooked off the figs so that you don’t end up with big ice crystals in the ice cream. Cooking the figs down could take as long as an hour depending on how much water they contain.
Let the figs cool (preferably overnight).
Combine the fig mixture with the rest of the ingredients and place into your ice cream maker! If you are not using an ice cream maker (and I highly recommend you get one – we love ours) – then you can place the mixture in the freezer, remove every 20 minutes and give a good stir until the mix has turned into ice cream. Otherwise, your ice cream maker will perform the magic for you.
Serve with fresh left over figs and enjoy on some of our last summer nights…