For a while now I have been becoming more and more interested in the indigenous plants you can eat which we find all around us. I currently stay on the West Coast of South Africa which is part of the smallest of the six recognised floral kingdoms of the world, so it is full of amazing plants. When I was at Kirstenbosch gardens a few months ago, I saw a book called People's Plants (A guide to useful plants of southern Africa) inside there is so much practical knowledge, from plants used in soap making and cosmetics to different fruits and drinks. It seems our current food system has completely severed us from our knowledge of indigenous plants, and now we eat and use only a tiny tiny proportion of plants available to us. Anyway going off on one, so this blog post is about the amazing Sour Fig.
The Sour Fig (suurvy, ghauken, it has a lot of different names) is native to South Africa, but has also become an invasive species in many other countries. Sour fig leaves are eaten by tortoises, it’s flowers by antelopes and porcupines and they provide shelter for lizards and snails.The leaves can also be used by humans for various skin problems and I've also read that the leaf juice can be gargled for a sore throat. There are many different recipes where sour figs are used, but I decided to go for the classic Sour Fig Jam.
You will need...
2 cups of Sour Figs
2 cups of sugar
1/2 cup of rooibos tea or water
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
Citrus peels for pectin
1. For this recipe you will need two cups of sour figs which you can find in a market or shop, or you can go out a pick them which is more fun!
2. Firstly you need to top and tail your sour figs and cut them into smaller pieces, which is probably the most time consuming bit.
3. After that you can add your 2 cups of sugar, 1/2 a cup of rooibos tea, or water and a teaspoon of cinnamon. For pectin I used some orange skins, but you can use any source of pectin.
4. Place everything in a pot on a medium heat and stir until all the sugar has dissolved. Turn down the heat and simmer for half an hour.
5. Pour your jam into sterilised jars, adding wax paper to cover and label.
6. Store in a cool, dark place or the fridge.