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Fig leaves in East Bay?

bythebay Aug 2, 2012 11:48 PM

Anyone know where I can buy these in the Oakland/Berkeley area right now? I don't know if they have a certain season or how it works. Thank you!

  1. maria lorraine Aug 3, 2012 05:45 PM

    Careful when you pick them. They exude a protelolytic enzyme that makes almost everyone's skin itch. Also causes red welts. Cover up your arms as much as possible and handle the leaves as little as possible.

    11 Replies
    1. re: maria lorraine
      Robert Lauriston Aug 4, 2012 02:44 PM


      1. re: maria lorraine
        bythebay Aug 6, 2012 12:16 AM

        Yikes. Maybe I'll just use parchment, instead of fig leaf. Especially since I also don't know where to pick them from. Would baking in parchment work as a decent substitute?

        Or maybe grape leaves, are those available in stores? Or other any other types of leaves that I could buy in stores that I could use? My plan was to grill fish in the leaves as well as bake goat cheese.

        1. re: bythebay
          Melanie Wong Aug 6, 2012 01:25 AM

          As noted in the link RL provided above, fig leaves impart a wonderful fragrance/taste to the food you're cooking. Parchment and grape leaves cannot equal that quality though they can function to wrap food.

          1. re: Melanie Wong
            bythebay Aug 6, 2012 01:54 AM

            So no other leaf gives a nice fragrance/taste? Not even banana leaf? (Not that I know if those are available in stores either.) Just trying to think if anything else might be similar but easy to buy locally.

            Fig sounds great though. I will definitely have to order fish cooked in fig leaf next time I have the chance, I've never had it. I don't know if I know anyone with a tree and really don't want to mess with the skin turning red and itchy thing, so I may have to leave the fig thing for a restaurant order rather than my own cooking unfortunately.

            1. re: bythebay
              Melanie Wong Aug 6, 2012 08:44 AM

              Just wear gloves.

              1. re: Melanie Wong
                bythebay Aug 6, 2012 06:06 PM

                Now, where to get them though...

          2. re: bythebay
            bbulkow Aug 6, 2012 07:47 AM

            All the links say blanch the fig leaves first and don't eat them, and Chez Pannise has been using fig leaves from their mission fig in back "forever".

          3. re: maria lorraine
            bythebay Aug 6, 2012 12:21 AM

            Just out of curiosity, is this also true if you buy them, or only when first picking them?

            1. re: bythebay
              Robert Lauriston Aug 6, 2012 07:49 AM

              They might wash them. I'm not sure I've ever seen them in a store. Ask around at your local farmers market, anyone who grows figs (even if they don't currently have any to sell) could bring you some leaves by special order.

              Banana leaves are good for grilling. Asian and Mexican markets sometimes have them fresh, more often frozen.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston
                bythebay Aug 6, 2012 06:07 PM

                Do banana leaves also impart a nice flavor the way fig leaves do?

                Thanks everyone for the info. I am asking around to see if anyone has a tree in their yard or friend of a friend type thing.

              2. re: bythebay
                maria lorraine Aug 6, 2012 01:35 PM

                I doubt you can wash the irritating enzyme away. To repeat Melanie, just use gloves.
                BTW, that should have been "proteolytic" enzyme. I've lived with fig trees many years, and picking the figs (which includes brushing against the leaves), invariably leaves redness. Not just for me, for everyone. You should wash the leaves to clean them for use in cooking. Wrapping fish is my favorite, and I got the idea from a chat with Alice Waters. You can also grill using fig branches for fuel. Same smell/aromatics.

            2. e
              eethan Aug 3, 2012 08:38 AM

              What do you do with fig leaves? Is this for a metaphor?

              3 Replies
              1. re: eethan
                Robert Lauriston Aug 3, 2012 08:40 AM


                1. re: Robert Lauriston
                  eethan Aug 3, 2012 10:16 AM


                2. re: eethan
                  bythebay Aug 6, 2012 12:15 AM

                  I was going to make fish and also maybe goat cheese in them.

                3. Robert Lauriston Aug 3, 2012 08:25 AM

                  I haven't seen them for sale, but the trees have pretty big leaves this time of year.

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