Turns out, fig leaves have a wonderful flavor to them. There are plenty of recipes out there for using fig leaves as a wrapping for steaming fish, meat, and rice. But this interesting recipe (courtesy of Lillie O’Brien’s Five Seasons of Jam) uses this novel ingredient to make a syrup for use in drinks, cocktails and desserts.

An image of some fig leaves sitting on a white stone kitchen counter

Freshly picked fig leaves

If you’ve never tasted a fig leaf, you’re not alone. Take a fresh fig leaf, tear it in half, and smell. The aroma is kind of like a green coconut. There’s a sort of sweetness to it, it’s vegetal and nutty, and gives me definite tropical vibes. Those characteristics screamed ‘refreshing’ to me, so I decided a summery lemonade would be a good use for the fig leaf’s unique flavor.

An image of torn fig leaves steeping in a pot of syrup on the stove

This batch was going to age in a plastic container, so I added the leaves to the syrup and let cool, so as not to melt the container


Recipe: Fig leaf simple syrup

Total time: 2 weeks
Active time: 10 mins
Yield: 500ml syrup
Credit: Five Seasons of Jam, Lillie O’Brien

Ingredients

  • 4 fresh fig leaves
  • 300g water
  • 300g sugar

Method

Tear each fig leaf into a few pieces, and place them in a clean jar.

Combine water and sugar in a small saucepan, and bring to a boil, stirring to ensure sugar dissolves. We need the high heat of the boiling syrup to extract the maximum amount of flavor from the fig leaves.

Pour boiling syrup over the torn fig leaves. Close your jar, and leave it in a cool places for 2 weeks to allow the fig leaves to flavor the syrup. Over time, the syrup will take on a gentle yellow hue.

After 2 weeks, strain out the fig leaves, and reserve the syrup.


A small jar with a yellow-colored syrup in it, sitting on a stone countertop

The finished syrup after straining out the leaves

This syrup is a ‘simple’ syrup because it has a 1:1 ratio (by mass) of sugar:water. As such you can substitute it in most cocktail recipes that call for a simple syrup. Below is a simple but refreshing lemonade that shows off the unique flavor of this syrup.

A glass of iced lemonade, garnished with mint and a half-wheel of lemon

The garnished fig leaf lemonade


Recipe: Fig leaf lemonade

Total time: 5 mins
Active time: 5 mins

Ingredients

  • 60ml fig leaf syrup
  • 60ml fresh lemon juice
  • 4 drops 20% salt solution, or a large pinch of salt
  • water
  • ice
  • (optional) mint for garnish
  • (optional) lemon wheel for garnish

Method

If you’re garnishing with a lemon wheel, cut the wheel now before you juice the rest of the lemon. Measure fig leaf syrup and freshly squeezed lemon juice, and combine in a large glass. Add salt solution or salt and stir to dissolve. Add ice, and dilute with water (still or sparkling) to taste. A spring of mint and a wedge of lemon make a great garnish.