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From: Will Davis (66.159.221.190)
Subject:         Re: fig allergy?
Date: October 12, 2010 at 1:36 am PST

In Reply to: fig allergy? posted by heidi on August 20, 2008 at 7:02 pm:

The stem side of a freshly picked fig will ooze a white sticky fluid. This latex, which also oozes from picked leaves, does cause allergic reactions in sensitive people. When in contact with the skin, this latex can cause itching, redness, and swelling. This reaction typically clears within a few minutes, although people with severe latex allergies should avoid any contact.

The mouth sensations may be due to the above, or another food allergy, and is common in figs that are under-ripened. Try to eat only the figs that develop a colorful and moist interior that should be honey sweet, a slight hint of "pomegranate" in the tiny flowers, and perhaps a "nutty" or "smokey" finish overall, such as the flavor found in a good and ripe mission fig.

Also, don't eat figs just picked off the tree, but rather let them rest a couple of hours. The latex seems to break down rather quickly.

Normally the tree will produce two yields of figs within a year. The early yield is often smaller and firmer, and the second yield is larger and juicier.
The second yield (late summer through early fall) is also when some trees seem to be sappiest, so you may want to try each yield season to see if one is less allergenic than the other. The first yield starts growing just before the leaves come back (late winter through early spring), so most of the latex production is reserved for leaf growth. These early figs are a little blander, but still enjoyable.

Try cooking them! It seems to help eliminate some allergic reactions. Here's a treat... try putting a bunch in a blender and make a smooth puree, then use it in place of pumpkin for baking a custard pie. All the other ingredients are the same as for pumpkin pie, including the spices. Also swirl the puree into coffee cake recipes, or add to yeast risen nut breads. The puree can be frozen and used later.

If you have a fruit drier, dry a bunch of sweet ripe figs, halved and faced up. Useful for chopping into jams, Mincemeat, chutneys, fruitcakes... The dried Missions make a great Mincemeat and do well with sweet spices (cinnamon, clove, allspice, etc.), and also the hot spices, such as the roasted Asian red pepper flakes and ground white pepper corns used in the various chutneys!

Also, drench some in honey before drying for a great tasting fruit candy treat! Stuffed with an almond, it's even better! These kind of goodies can get you kicked out of Heaven's Gates when you die! It's just too good!

Enjoy!

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