“In 2013 we met a dear man and a good friend from the village of Beit Jann named Mahmoud Abbasi. A high school teacher in Jish, he also works to preserve traditional recipes and production methods that were passed down to him by his mother when he was little, such as sun-drying figs, preparing “fig honey,” ma’akud, and more,” explains Adi Segal, owner of Yalkut Haroim Farm. “We also encountered ma’akud in the kitchen of Khadra, an elderly woman from the village who preserves traditional food traditions such as making dried figs, cured olives, and much more.”
Ma’akud is a general term for preserving fruit by cooking it with sugar into a jam enriched with spices, nuts, and seeds. Mahmoud and Khadra are among the remaining few in Jish who still adhere to the traditional recipes unique to the village, using only local ingredients picked in the ancient orchards. Their recipe incorporates chopped dried figs, toasted sesame seeds, anise seeds, and cracked walnuts.
A few words on sun-drying figs: The original Jish recipe calls for Byadi figs but there are other sweeter varieties that are also suitable for drying. Look for ones that have a high concentration of sugar and the texture of fruit that ripened fully on the tree. To dry the figs, open them with your fingers and spread them on a surface in the sun for 2-5 days (depending on the weather), open side facing up. At night, make sure to cover the figs with an airtight cover so as to prevent condensation from the morning’s dew. The figs are ready when they turn chewy in texture, but you can also tell by their weight: 1 kg (2.2lb) of fresh figs will yield 280 grams (10 oz) of dried figs. Once ready, transfer the figs to the shade and let rest for several hours before transferring them to an airtight container (they do not need to be kept refrigerated).
About the Farm: Yalkut Haroim was established in 2012 in Kibbutz Tziv’on in the Upper Galilee. They are continuously involved in the management of the genetic heirloom varieties collection and the local flora. The nursery, which is under the supervision of the Ministry of Agriculture and is PPIS (Plant Protection and Inspection Services) approved, produces thousands of seedlings every year as well as a stock of seeds and vegetative propagation material for use in various projects and for commercial distribution to the general public.
- 2¼ cups (1kg/2.2lb) fresh figs, dried (see headnote), or 300 grams (10½ oz) dried figs
- 1⅓ cup (100 grams/ 3½oz) ground almonds
- 1 cup (100 grams/ 3½oz) ground walnuts
- 3 tablespoons (30 grams/ 1oz) whole sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons (25 grams/ 1oz) anise seeds
- Soak the dried figs in luke water for 1 minute, no longer. Drain and leave in a colander for 10 minutes.
- Traditionally, the figs are minced by hand to a paste, but you can also grind the figs using a meat grinder or a food processor.
- Mix in the remaining ingredients by hand. The paste can be rolled into balls, similar to date or energy balls.