Why were figs so popular in antiquity?

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Figs the perfect substitute for sugar

Why were figs so popular in antiquity?
Image from Pixabay

Figs are prized primarily for their aromatic taste. Figs have been valued since Antiquity, since there was a shortage of sugar at that time. These fruits were the perfect substitute, because a fresh fig has a sugar concentration of 10%, while a dry one of no less than 55%, i.e. more than half the weight of the fruit itself.

The Egyptians considered figs real drugs. The fig tree is often evoked in the Bible and is also mentioned by Horatiu. In our country the fig is grown in the south and west, obtaining successful crops. The fig season starts in September, but the really ripe figs we find in early October.

How do we distinguish ripe and raw figs? Figs have a wide variety of colors, from yellow, to green, red, brown or even black, so they do not have a specific color when ripe. However, it is good to choose soft figs to feel (not very soft enough to squeeze, they must have the same texture as that of ripe peaches).

Therapeutic recommendations of figs

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Fresh figs contain 84% water, and dried figs almost at all. Figs contain protides and carbohydrates (invert sugar), as well as potassium. Figs also contain sodium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, Vitamin A, B1, B2,niacin, Vitamin C,magnesium and bromine.

Figs have dominant pectoral properties. Fruits are emollient and expectorant being recommended in bronchitis, laryngitis, tracheitis, pneumonia. Being emollient, figs have a useful action in other types of catarrhes, for example in the intestinal and urinary. They also have laxative and diuretic properties.

Externally, also through the emollient properties is explained their recommendation in stomatitis, gingivitis and inflammation of the throat. Figs are also useful in dental abscesses and boils. The milky juice of green figs is active in the fight against warts and calluses.

Figs consumed as such are especially recommended for athletes, children and the elderly. It can be made an expectorant decoction with 2-3 fruits per cup, 2 cups per day. You can also prepare a syrup, from 500 g per liter of water. Boil on the water bath until reduced by half. Strain and add 250 g honey. Take one teaspoon 2-3 times a day.

In Antiquity, the latex of immature fig fruits was used in the preparation of cheeses and for the fragrantness of meat. In the case of boils, applications with a maturing role are made, favouring the collection of pus (baking), with warm figs or poultices of fruit cooked in water or milk. Repeated applications (3 times a day for 5-6 days) are made on warts and calluses with juice obtained from young fruits.

The fig leaves also have therapeutic properties such as: expectorant, in circulatory disorders and are emenagogic (regulation of cycles), in the form of infusion 20-30 g per liter. Young branches, in the form of decoction (about 2 tablespoons of finely chopped twigs per 250 ml of water), constitute a good laxative and diuretic, which can also be given to children.

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