Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Miele di Fichi

A wonderful syrup called "Miele di Fichi" is a traditional product produced in Calabria, a province in Southern Italy. Contrary to its name, it is actually an extract made from figs and not fig honey (as it would be translated). It is my understanding that the name comes from the consistency of the liquid that is produced.

In any case, I was actually getting very tired of hearing comments such as "Back in the day, this [insert food name] was really made with miele di fichi and now they just use honey!" The reason I say this, is because it is beyond my understanding why people just don't make miele di fichi instead of complaining that they don't have any. It is actually quite an easy recipe, as you will see.

To begin, you will need a quantity of figs. Apparently, either fresh or dried figs can be used. However, I prefer to use the dried variety, as they have a very concentrated flavour.

I purchased two types of dried figs; a lighter and a darker variety (for no reason at all). Actually, they were more semi-dry than anything (meaning they still held quite a bit of moisture). Also, these figs were already pre-cut with an opening in the middle. It saved me some time, as I really wanted to extract the flavours from the insides of the figs.

To begin, place the figs into a saucepan.

Then, fill the pot with enough water to cover the figs.

Slowly simmer the liquid until it becomes approximately 1/3 of its original volume.

Strain out the liquid.

Presto! You will have freshly-made miele di fichi for use.

As the liquid is not preserved in any way, I would advise to place it in a clean jar and put it in the fridge, so that it keeps.

You can use this liquid:
- as a sweetener
- in place of honey
- to enhance the flavour of cakes and pastries
- to make a famous Calabrian sweet known as Mustazzoli or Mostaccioli

Also, don't forget about your re-hydrated figs! Feel free to remove the hard stems and chop them up.

I like to place them in a jar in the fridge and add them to cereals, oatmeal, cakes, cookies, granola bars, etc.