Do you eat fig leaves?

My fig tree (Ficus carica) is sprouting an abundance of soft large tender leaves at the moment. It’ll be a while until there are any figs ready, and to be honest, in this climate (subtropical), the amount of figs I can harvest is quite small.  

I have placed the fig tree in my landscape design to be close to the chicken house. This way, everyday I see how the fruits are going and can harvest them before the birds. 

My daughter and I love fresh figs and we delight eating the few we get right there and then in the garden. In actual fact, I don’t think a fig has every reached our house.

Anyway, I was standing there looking at this fig tree the other day and thinking how nice the new leaves looked. They certainly looked edible, but I have not tried them before, so I’ve gone and done some research. This is what I found.

  • Fig leaves are well and truly edible.
  • Fig leaves add a lovely coconut, walnut, vanilla flavour to food.
  • Don’t bother with the really old ones – way too fibrous and bland.
  • Fig leaves are a good source of vitamin A, B1, and B2. They also contain calcium, iron, phosphorus, manganese, sodium, and potassium. 
  • There are many health benefits from consuming fig leaves and drinking fig leaf tea: anti-diabetic, lower triglycerides, for bronchitis to name a few
  • Take care with the sap when harvesting, it can irritate.
  • The first record of fig leaves being used as a food wrap is in 3rd century BCE. Fig trees are thought to have originated in the middle east and first cultivated in Egypt. They flourish  areas with a mediterranean climates – hot dry summers and mild winters. They are however found everywhere except Antarctica.

And here are 5 ways to use fig leaves:

  1. Make fig leaf tea. Dry fig leaves can be used as a tea just as you normally brew tea leaves. You can also use the fresh leaves. Boil them up for 15 minutes and strain. 
  2. Cook up fig leaves in lightly salted water for 20 minutes or until tender, then use as a wrap or spinach green alternative.
  3. Use fig leaf as a wrap. The leaves add a great mediterranean flavour to food when wrapped and cooked. Fig leaves can be used  to wrap rice and vegetables, or to wrap fish. 
  4. Cook up a vegetable curry with big leaves in it. Remove the leaves at the end. The leaves add a lovely flavour.
  5. Leaves can also be added to slow cook stews or soups as a spinach alternative.

I would be very interested to hear what you know about eating fig leaves. 

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