Freeze N Dried

Fig Fragments add a Gourmet Touch

What do you imagine when you think of gourmet food? What are the first things that come to mind? Perhaps it might be the subtle flavours, perhaps the more visually appealing presentation, or maybe an exotic combination of extremely rare ingredients? Having existed since the time of ancient Romans, this small but delicious fruit with several seeds out of known plants on Earth became gourmet modern superstars. And they bring a new flavour to dishes, literally – the freeze-dried figs. Let’s figure out what this unusual fruit and the people who make it can show the world.

The Allure of Figs: A Brief History

Ancient Delight

But the truth is figs aren’t new any longer. They have been here for a while. For millennia, in fact. And not only do people know well the taste and properties of the fruit, it has served in countless idiomatic ways up to a high civilisational level, both in Egypt and Greece. It was so appropriate to describe the classic symbol of prosperity and peace that it was invested with divine and cosmic power.

The Renaissance of Figs in Modern Cuisine

Now, chefs everywhere use figs in their dishes that celebrate the grace notes of this versatile fruit from the classic warm weather salad with halves or cross-sections, figs are used in desserts from sorbets to parfaits, but also in mains and sauces, not to mention splitting them and using them as a canapé or filling for salty offerings. And when freeze-dried? Even more flavour.

The Process of Freeze-Drying Figs

Benefits Over Traditional Drying

Freeze drying preserves the fruit but also makes it transcendent. When compared to the withering that may come with conventional drying, nothing can strip a fruit of its nutrients and flavour. Why did the bit of freeze-dried fig tastes so much like the whole fruit all over again? Now you know.

 

Dried fig in South Africa, Dried fig Manufacturers & Suppliers in South Africa

The Evolution of Freeze Drying Technology

Due to modern freeze drying methods, colour, texture and (other) nutrition are preserved Models for the preservation by freeze drying are currently rapid freezing (which requires the material to be frozen very fast) and then reducing the surrounding pressure, thereby reducing the phase transition from solid to liquid, as the frozen water tries to melt. It now sublimes instead (a very small jump to the gas phase).

Gourmet Recipes with Fig Fragments

Entrees and Mains

A whole chicken is roasting away – crisp brown skin, innards packed away. Sprinkle it with shards of dried fig and what was merely a good roast becomes a gourmet dinner. The dried figs break through the salt and earthiness of your meat with just the right amount of sweetness. The whole meal is a dance of flavours.

Desserts and Sweets

Had vanilla panna cotta? Now top it with (more) fig bits and it becomes something else entirely. The crunchy, sweet tiny objects of the pipctures contrast perfectly with the silky Italian panna cotta texture.

Health Benefits of Figs

Nutritional Composition

As well as their taste, figs are said to be nutritionally excellent, being high not only in dietary fibre, which is essential for healthy digestion, but also in the B vitamins required for stable energy levels, and a number of minerals with a range of benefits, like magnesium, manganese, calcium and potassium. In other words, they’re good for you.

Therapeutic Uses

Figs are among the traditional medicines that some of us have used for decades. Their natural sugars can be used to fuel the body, its dietary fibre helps with digestion and its antioxidants can combat the oxidative stress and inflammation associated with many diseases.

Choosing and Storing Your Fig Fragments

Selection Tips

Figs are best when they’re plump, dark and fragrant, so if choosing freeze-dried fig fragments, make sure they have this attributes… so they will look, smell and taste like the tree produced them at the height of its ripeness.

Storage Guidelines

Make sure to store your figs seeds in a cool, dry and dark place, away from direct sun. Be sure to keep them in an airtight container.

Keeping Freshness Intact

Be aware that the moment you open the package, their ‘freshness’ clock is ticking, so you should either re-seal the packaging, or transfer the fragments into a zip-lock bag.

Conclusion

Used to garnish a roast, or as an unexpected addition on a salad, figs — especially in their freeze-dried state — have become the ultimate gourmet finishing touch; a connection to ancient culinary heritage that’s as fresh as today’s foodiest cooking.

FAQs

Why are figs considered gourmet?

Figs are distinct in flavour, and have been considered a gourmet wonderfood for thousands of years. They are a culinary calorie of delight.

How do freeze-dried figs differ from traditionally dried ones?

This is not only more nutritious but also helps to preserve the quality of the fruit, whereby vitamins and minerals are retained, and freeze-drying is possible without exposing the fruit to high temperatures, thus keeping the figs’ flavour.

Can I use fig fragments in savory dishes?

Absolutely! They’re ideal with savoury dishes – the perfect addition to any entree or main.

How long do freeze-dried fig fragments last?

When stored properly, they can remain viable for several months – ready to be combined with a few ingredients and created into tasty, if not a little un-exotic, dishes.

Are figs healthy?

They're undoubtedly healthy as figs are rich in vitamins, minerals and dietary fibre. This makes them a valuable addition to anyone’s diet, as well as offering a sweet contrast to the sharpness of the goat cheese.

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