Fig


Fig -

The fruit of the fig tree, of which there are several hundred varieties. It consists of a pulp containing about 60% sugar, enclosed in a thin skin varying in color from nearly white to dark purplish or black.

Figs are best known to the average consumer in their dried condition. Next in point of popularity are those preserved in syrup, brandy, maraschino, etc., and in "marmalade" form. There is also a fair demand for Stuffed Figs, filled with nut meats mixed with chopped figs or with any of the materials used in the stuffing of dates. The fresh fruit is too perishable an article for handling by any other than "fancy" fruit stores, except in districts with a large Latin population.

Some choice qualities of both the "plain" and "stuffed" are put up in fancy boxes, baskets, jars, etc., but the greater part of the supply, from the very finest "Smyrna Extra Fancy 3-in Layers" to the more ordinary types, come in bulk, chiefly in boxes, but also in drums, bags, etc.

The greater part of the consumption of dried figs is of the imported variety, chiefly from Asia Minor, of which Smyrna is the principal seaport - hence the name "Smyrna Figs." Greece and Italy supply a minor quantity and there is a constantly increasing production in California and the South.

figs can be kept without deterioration for from eight to twelve weeks if stored temperature of about 40° Fahr.

are in Europe utilized in large quantities in the manufacture of Germany, as a substitute for coffee.

The Two principal types of "Smyrna Figs" - which set the quality all fig-producing countries - are those classed as Eleme, the best known pulled figs," and called also "Layer Figs" because of the style of packing, and . "Eleme" is a Turkish word signifying "selected." "Locoum" figs are those packed in the shape of cubes - Locoum being the Turkish name for a square-shaped sweetmeat. The title also stands for quality, because only thick and meaty figs can be packed in Locoum style.

"(Smyrna) Naturals" are the inferior fruits, shipped loose in bags and boxes. The term "natural" is applied because they are not compressed in packing.

In packing Eleme Figs, the fruit is first "pulled" and drawn between the fingers and thumb into a flat disk-like form, and then the back part is split to allow still more spreading. In "pulling," the "eye" part is brought into the center of the disk. The "pulled" figs are then placed in "layers" in boxes and the piling up of the boxes on each other presses the contents. A few bay leaves are generally placed on top of the filled boxes, partly for the flavor and partly to exclude insects.

Eleme or Layer Figs are graded from "choice" to "extra fancy," etc., and by size, 1 3/4 in. to 3 in., etc.

For Locoum Figs, the fruit is merely pressed between the fingers to somewhat cubical shape.

The square-shaped Locoum-packing is generally known as the "English" or "London" style. It has the advantage that the absence of air-passages is an additional safeguard against the deterioration of the fruit. The round or "American" packing is also frequently known in the trade by the specific title of "Pulled Figs." The English style is usually preferred in New England markets, but elsewhere the American is the best selling type of Locoum figs.

The greater part of the basket and carton output is further generally described as "washed."

Most of the fig trees grown in Asia Minor are of the varieties which require "caprification." They bear only female blossoms, and these are hidden inside the immature fruit. The only method of fertilizing the fruit is by means of the fig wasp, a little insect which is found abundantly in the fruit of the wild fig, known as the "Caprifig." When the wasp emerges from the ripened caprifig in which she has developed to maturity, she seeks an immature caprifig to enter for the purpose of depositing her eggs in it. If a cultivated fig tree is nearby, she may enter its immature fruit by mistake - and as she is covered with the pollen of the caprifig, she unwittingly fertilizes its numerous blossoms by piercing their bases and thus brings the fruit to maturity. Where caprifigs grow in the vicinity of "Smyrna" trees, the wasps will of their own accord fertilize the fruit of the latter with more or less thoroughness, but to insure complete and uniform fertilization of the entire crop, growers take charge of the caprification themselves by attaching caprifigs to reeds and suspending them over the fruiting branches of the cultivated trees.

Grecian Figs are chiefly of varieties similar to the "Smyrna" and require caprification. The fruit is generally of inferior quality. After drying, it is usually strung on reeds, bent into "wheels," of various shapes and containing each from fifty to several hundred, and packed in large cases.

Italian Figs are principally of types which do not need caprification. The drying is frequently by artificial heat and is facilitated by splitting the fruit. A popular style is to insert an almond or piece of citron in the pulp after drying.

Grecian and Italian figs are cut as they ripen, instead of being allowed to fall as in Asia Minor.


Arround Fig in The Grocer's Encyclopedia


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