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How to Use Fig Leaves?

 
pollinator
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In our mediterranean food forest we grow several fig trees (different varieties).
We love eating figs, but I know that you can use the fig leaves too - they're edible, tasty, nutritious and medicinal.

These days the leaves are just starting out, and within a couple of weeks they will be perfect to eat.

This is our oldest fig tree, the locals believe that it's a couple of hundred years old...





Here is what I know about fig leaves:

They're nutritious - a good source of vitamin A, B1, and B2 and also contain calcium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, sodium, and potassium.

They're tasty - adding a lovely mediterranean coconut, walnut, vanilla flavor to food.

They're medicinal - considered anti-diabetic, and have been shown to lower the body’s triglyceride levels, lowering the risk for obesity and heart disease.
Fig leaves are also used in a variety of other home remedies for cardiovascular problems, bronchitis and ulcers.

Here is my question though...

I am looking for good, tasty, vegan recipes with fig leaves.
If you ever created one, or found a great recipe online - would you be willing to share it here?

Thank you so much, and make it a great day
 
N. Neta
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This Salmon Fillet Baked in Fig Leaves with Garlicky Potatoes sounds yummy...
But it's not vegan?

Any other ideas?
 
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When the leaves turn yellow at the end of the season they make an excellent tea which tastes kind of like marshmallows.
 
N. Neta
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Joe Banks wrote:When the leaves turn yellow at the end of the season they make an excellent tea which tastes kind of like marshmallows.


Wonderful... So just to leave them on the tree, and pick them before they fall to the ground?
 
N. Neta
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This Panang Curry with Fig Leaves looks yummy...

Anyone with more ideas for edible fig leaves?
 
N. Neta
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Found this recipe on YouTube...

Sounds very promising...

 
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Fig leaves are edible?! I think you just blew my mind haha. This is awesome
 
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N. Neta wrote:Found this recipe on YouTube...

Sounds very promising...



This reminds me of Dolmades--stuffed grape leaves--more savory than sweet. My husband and I make these sometimes...but I do know that in some places in the Mediterranean, they DO use fig leaves instead of grape leaves.
 
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This isn't the leaves, but I've used the white fig sap to make a soft cheese.

unripe fig with sap

It contains the enzyme rennin, so it's a natural vegan rennet. It's easy to make. I used citric acid to culture the milk, added a couple drops of fig sap per quart of milk, and heated to lukewarm.

A couple drops of fig sap to a quart of milk.

It takes awhile to separate into curds and whey. The I drained the whey off and added a little salt.

Similar to cream cheese.

It makes a soft, spreadable, and delicious cheese. I tried several recipes substituting it for cream cheese.

Fig sap cheese and jelly sandwich.

I think the sap is in the base of the leaves too. I can't recall at the moment. Anyway, I'm definitely going to try some of these ideas for fig leaves!



 
N. Neta
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Chris Holcombe wrote:Fig leaves are edible?! I think you just blew my mind haha. This is awesome


They’re not only edible, but also medicinal... Chris.
Check out this article - about how to use fig leaves
 
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I know many leaves are edible, I not up to using a lot of them.  I imagine that whatever use for grape leaves could be for fig leas.  Same with maple leaves.

Here is a thread on edible tree leaves:

https://permies.com/t/87642/Vegetable-Trees

I looked on Pinterest and saw many things, like wine, syrup, jelly, ice cream, creme brulee, etc.



I am not sure what this recipe is maybe ice cream? The Pinterest link only gives the ingredient.  Directions are at the link with the ingredients.

This fig leaf recipe from Ollie Dabbous is only for the most accomplished and determined cook. It is a masterclass in technique and presentation which shows off rarely used fig leaves.



https://www.pinterest.com/pin/175077504252639618/
 
N. Neta
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Leigh Tate wrote:This isn't the leaves, but I've used the white fig sap to make a soft cheese.


This is fantastic, Leigh.
Thank you so much for this.
 
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Wow, these are some really exciting ideas. I haven't gone as far into actually cooking with fig leaves as others, but two things I have done that I really like: (a) bake fruit in a pan lined with fig leaves to infuse their wonderful aroma into the fruit; apples, pears, and plums are all good; (b) make simple syrup with fig leaves to produce a wonderful syrup that is good for making ice cream, homemade soda, or cocktails (fig leaf Old Fashioned).
 
N. Neta
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Matt Mill wrote:(b) make simple syrup with fig leaves to produce a wonderful syrup that is good for making ice cream, homemade soda, or cocktails (fig leaf Old Fashioned).


Great to hear, Matt...
Would you be willing to share the syrup recipe?
Thank you so much.
 
Leigh Tate
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N. Neta wrote:
Great to hear, Matt...
Would you be willing to share the syrup recipe?
Thank you so much.


I second that!
 
Matt Mill
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There's not really a recipe...I think normal simple syrup proportions are something like 1:1 sugar and water, but I don't honestly measure too carefully. Just put something like those proportions in a saucepan with a few fig leaves and simmer it until the sugar has dissolved and it turns a nice rich color. Then refrigerate.
 
N. Neta
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Matt Mill wrote:Just put something like those proportions in a saucepan with a few fig leaves and simmer it until the sugar has dissolved and it turns a nice rich color. Then refrigerate.


Thanks a million, Matt
 
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Thank you Matt. I am going to try this. It sounds great
 
pollinator
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Howdy,
One of my mediterranean cookbooks says if you don't have grape leaves you can supstitute fig leaves, and I have made alot of stuffed fig leaf things, rice/vegie, salmon/seafood wraps and cook on bbq.
 
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And here I thought the only thing one could do with fig leaves is cover their nether regions....
 
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Incredible ! I believe that's the best news I got today It seems so logical but I never thought of eating those leaves... Thank you !!
 
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I just saw the following on the Merriwether's Foraging Texas FB page:

Just a reminder, toasted, young leaves of fig trees taste like coconut! Bake them in an oven at 375F for until crunchy/brittle then crush up and add wherever you'd put coconut. Mmmmmm!



No recipes, but one commenter showed a photo of fig leaf ice cream with the comment "Tastes just like coconut."



Another commenter said -- and this is highly relevant to my interests -- "Infused in vodka makes a wonderful drink!"

For context, I have a ton of fig plants that make lots of leaves but very little fruit (so far) due to mostly not being quite hardy enough for my conditions. So I am going to be trying this just as soon as this year's new growth gets going.
 
Dan Boone
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Dan Boone wrote:So I am going to be trying this just as soon as this year's new growth gets going.



Well, that didn't happen last year. But I just now saw a post (perhaps a "Reel") on Facebook about making fig leaf syrup, from a forager who goes by ChaoticForager.   So I thought I should do this before it's too late this year.

For context, our weather only started to cool a couple of weeks ago, and my biggest fig tree (a Kadota) is throwing out quite a bit of new growth. The old leaves have had a very long and hard summer. They've suffered fig rust, bird poop, grasshopper predation, and substantial hail damage. They don't look like attractive food. But the new growth is green and bright, and it will be dead at first frost, somewhere between 7 and 30 days from now.  So, why not?

New growth on Kadota fig tree

Kadota fig tree in mid-October, approximately 7 feet tall


First I tasted the young leaves straight from the plant. Considerable tannic bitterness, but the flavor of vanilla and coconut was very much present and surprisingly forward.

I started by picking a very loosely packed quart of young leaves.  Washed and wet, I had about two tightly-packed cups of leaves.

Young fig leaves in a 4-cup measure, about 2 cups worth when washed and tightly packed


Put them in a sauce pan with a quart of water. Brought them to a boil.  Water began to color immediately. Coconut flavor very evident. Wow! Added one quart of granulated cane sugar, brought the mixture back to a boil.

Fig leaves simmering in 1:1 ratio (AKA weak) simple syrup


Simmered for 15 minutes on lowest gas burner setting.  Tasted. Coconut flavor a bit stronger, but also picking up vegetal "boiled greens" flavor notes.  Not as much color as I was hoping for, so I turned up the gas one notch and gave it 10 more minutes.  Strained out the leaves, set it to cool in a Pyrex bowl. Flash chilled a tablespoon in the freezer for cold tasting.  Total yield, about six cups.

About six cups of young fig leaf simple syrup


Final tasting notes, cold syrup: Unfortunately the spinach-like vegetal notes light up my palate first. None of that iron tang that you get from, say, lambs quarters, but chlorophyllic, with an added tannic bitterness that would perfectly work in tea.  Then, the coconut flavor with vanilla notes comes through strongly, but more as aftertaste than foretaste.  Nor are those tropical flavors as strong as I was hoping.

This syrup is sweet (obviously) and in no wise offensive, but not special enough (IMO) to be a signature cocktail or baking flavor.  I will probably use this in place of honey (of which we can never afford as much as we would like) to sweeten medicinal herbal tea mixtures that are already strongly vegetal, or to sweeten cheap booze  (whiskey and/or rum) that always needs a bit of help flavor-wise. The syrup certainly won't go to waste!

Things I want to try next time: Toasting the leaves first (stronger flavor?) and cooking down the syrup until it begins to caramelize. Caramel syrup is always useful, and I want to find out whether the extra cooking (toasting and/or caramelization) drives off and weakens the coconut/vanilla notes, or concentrates them.  

 
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I googled "Fig Leaf Recipes" and many delicious looking recipes popped up!

After reading your post about the nutritional value of fig leaves, I'll be trying them too!

https://theprudentgarden.com/cook-fig-leavespanang-curry-recipe/

https://food52.com/recipes/88490-fig-leaf-dumpling-recipe

http://bottomlessbites.com/recipes/658521-fig-leaf-coconut-rice

https://emilyfabulous.com/fig-leaf-syrup/
 
Dan Boone
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Dan Boone wrote:
This syrup is sweet (obviously) and in no wise offensive, but not special enough (IMO) to be a signature cocktail or baking flavor.  I will probably use this in place of honey (of which we can never afford as much as we would like) to sweeten medicinal herbal tea mixtures that are already strongly vegetal, or to sweeten cheap booze  (whiskey and/or rum) that always needs a bit of help flavor-wise. The syrup certainly won't go to waste!



One more update: for me the syrup ultimately failed in both tea and cocktails; the slightly-bitter vegetal flavors overwhelmed not only the coconut/vanilla notes but also the flavors of the beverages.

However, I finally did find a perfectly acceptable use for the syrup: it's great for flavoring cocoa (the kind you cook yourself with unsweetened cocoa powder and the dairy and sweetener alternatives of your preference) and especially coffee.  Against the bitterness of cocoa and coffee beans the unwelcome fig leave flavors have to take a number and fight it out; they aren't noticeable. Meanwhile cane sugar is cane sugar and the coconut notes add a bit of richness.

I probably won't make this syrup again but I wanted to come back and confirm that (a) I found a use for it and (b) as predicted the sacrificial/experimental quart of cane sugar did not in fact go to waste.
 
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