Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Do-It-Yourself: Fig Spread

What is fig spread and why would I make my own?  Fig spread is just what it sounds like - a spread made from figs.  If you've never had it before, you would likely find it with the specialty cheeses which it is often used with as an appetizer or dessert.  Ryan and I discovered fig spread a few years ago when our local grocery store added a very nice cheese section and had condiments to serve with it's cheese.  We decided to try it and enjoyed it very much.  Last year when we gave up sugary sweets for Lent we occasionally used fig spread on cheese with fruit or crackers as our after dinner "treat" if you will.  Friends of ours from Germany often commented on how sweet and indulgent our "American" desserts were, so I asked what was typical for them.  Their response, an after dinner glass of wine with various cheeses and/or a light fruit dessert.  Hmmm, that is different, but probably much healthier.

Growing up in an evangelical Christian home and church I had not personally experienced the act of giving something up for Lent.  After having children, however, Ryan and I discussed how there seemed to be so much preparation in the church for Christmas during Advent, but not much for Lent (at least not that I knew of).  Ryan started his religious experience in a Catholic church and felt that was one area that they did very well - preparation for Lent and Advent.  In our quest to make some meaningful Easter traditions we decided to give up sugary sweets during Lent last year.   And it most definitely was a time of "suffering" for us.  We struggled through sweet-less weeks and looked forward to our celebration Sundays.  This year we plan to do it again due to becoming addicted to sugar again during the Advent season.  We actually had done quite well decreasing our overall sugar intake until December of last year.  In addition to the experience of calling on God to help us get through our sugar cravings during Lent last year I had some added bonuses of giving up sweet treats - less moody, felt better overall, and at the end the scale showed a very positive result - and I hadn't even given up sugar entirely, just sweet treats Monday - Saturday.

Because Lent starts next week Wednesday I thought I'd share this recipe that I came up with to make my own fig spread.  Fig spreads come in various flavors: orange, coco, pear, etc.  So be creative.

Fig Spread
You will need:
1/2 cup Dried Figs
1/4 cup Dates (preferably whole - which won't contain added sugar)
Squeeze of lemon juice
One or more of the following:
Oranges - to squeeze for juice
Coco powder & Agave
100% juice or nectar with no added sugar
Port wine

First, chop up your figs and dates and place into a non-reactive bowl.  Then add juice to cover (or boiling water if using coco powder and agave).  When figs and dates are fully hydrated, drain excess liquid and place into a food processor, processing until a smooth paste forms.  If using the coco powder and agave, try one teaspoon of coco powder to one tablespoon of agave and taste to determine whether it needs more of one ingredient or the other.  Place spread in a glass jar and store in refrigerator (probably not more than a month) or freeze extra.

I got the idea for this when I made a fig filling for a cookie recipe that called for soaking the figs in port wine and lemon juice.  Unfortunately the cookies were not as tasty as the spread was.  When I made this spread I had some pomegranate juice in my refrigerator so that is what I used - pomegranate fig spread = Delicious!

I know I've had a lot of "sweet" recipes lately, but I probably won't be sharing any during the Lenten season.  Although I do have one more to share for Fat Tuesday/Mardi Gras next week.

Are you giving up anything for Lent?  Please share or join us in our quest to rid our lives of excess sweets!

Click on Recipe Title above for a printable version of the recipe without pictures.

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