Blackberry Farm

Friends of the Farm

A Litany of Leaves

One of the true joys of the late summer garden is the arrival of ripe, juicy figs, with their unique flavor and mysterious appearance. But in May, the fruits are still many weeks away. In the meantime, however, we need not wait to realize their dusky summer taste – the trees are hanging full with the next best thing: fig leaves.

Each spring, fig trees grow a profusion of leathery leaves to shade the developing fruits from the summer sun, and they can be used in the kitchen in many interesting ways. Like banana and grape leaves, fig leaves can become a flavorful wrapper for grilled or steamed foods, by imparting a brightly exotic and tropical pineapple/coconut hint to its contents. Imagine a square of salty feta or a lamb meatball laced with preserved lemon surrounded by a green fig leaf, which when grilled, infuses a wonderful perfume.

To cook with fresh fig leaves, simply soak them in hot water (the temperature of tea will suffice) for several minutes to soften them. Wrap around your desired filling: rice, fish, a burger, then grill or steam as normal. The soaked leaves will adhere to each other to form a tight bundle, which will keep the food moist. When grilling, the leaves will char slightly, but won’t burn easily. Before eating, however, be sure to discard the leaves after unwrapping.

Fig Leaf-Infused Sausage
Fresh fig leaves
Fresh sausages (lamb sausage works very well)

Steep fig leaves in very hot water for at least 30 minutes. After steeping, extra leaves can be stored in the refrigerator for future use. Heat a cast iron skillet over the fire. Slash the sausages on one side in a crosshatch pattern just through the casing (this works best for an emulsified sausage, like a mettwurst or knockwurst). Add sausages to the skillet, then cover with the soaked fig leaves. Brown the sausages slowly, turning once. When cooked through, discard the fig leaves and serve

Jeff Ross
Garden Manager