4 years ago, I posted an article I thought was whey out in left field – Making Rennet From Fig Sap?!! Our company sells a wide variety of rennets, but none of them are made from fig sap. It seemed like a very obscure method (although I did find in my research that it is 30 to 100 more powerful than anything else used to coagulate milk).
The comments to the article were very interesting – especially this one from FigTwig:
We did it! We boiled 2/3 cup milk and after taking it off the heat, stirred it with a freshly broken off fig stick. After about 1 minute the milk began to curdle and soon clearly separated into curds and whey. One of us thought it was a tiny bit bitter, the other didn’t notice any bitterness at all. All this was done in the morning–I don’t know how well the sap flows at other hours. Check out this web site for more about making cheese using fig sap: http://blog.pjvoice.com/diary/503/home-made-goat-cheese-for-shavuot
I did check out the article (by Ronit Treatman in The Philadelphia Jewish Voice) and discovered the reason why fig sap was used traditionally to make cheese- to comply with the prohibition of mixing meat and milk. The article includes this simple recipe:
Ancient Israelite Cheese from Neot Kedumim (Israel’s Biblical Landscape Reserve)
- 1 quart goat milk.
- 1 fig branch thoroughly washed. Cut it right before using.
Pour the milk into a pot. Squeeze 5 drops of sap from the fig branch, being very careful not to touch the sap. Fig sap may cause a rash, like poison ivy.
Heat the milk until it boils, stirring it with the fig branch.
Once the milk has curdled, allow it to cool.
Strain the curds through a cheesecloth.
Fig sap is being used to demonstrate cheese making at more than one historical re-enactment place in Israel. Last week, one of our customers, Gavriel Fagin, an adjunct professor at Yeshiva University in New York City wrote to us:
We just made goat cheese out of fresh goat milk today! We milked the goat, heated the milk, stirred for under a minute with a fresh fig leaf, and it’s separated into curds and a yellowish liquid. We then poured the liquid through a cheesecloth, leaving the curds in the cloth. We tied the cloth tightly, and after 20 minutes, delicious goat cheese. Really cool!
I asked him how that came to be and he explained that he was on a tour in Israel and they went to a place called Kfar Kedem (in Hoshaya) where they demonstrate ancient food preparation techniques. One of the demonstrations was making goat cheese from fresh goat milk. He said, “Kids and adults alike were blown away by the simplicity and great taste!
Here’s a more modern example of a cheese maker successfully using fig sap – https://votedwithourforks.wordpress.com/2015/03/28/fig-sap-ricotta/
Is there a down side? I found this at a fascinating website- Eat the Weeds:
If fig latex works so well as a rennet then why isn’t it more common? One reason is allergies. Some people have a severe reaction to even plant-based latex. Another is if too much is used it can impart a bitter flavor. So one has to use it sparingly and use it to get used to it.
Interesting Side Note:
Fig sap latex can be used for removing warts, according to All Remedies.com:
- Break a thin sprig or a leaf from a fig tree.
- Then, squeeze the exposed, bottom part, of its stem where you can see one white thick liquid. It is the fig tree latex which can be called fig milk or sap too.
- Now, apply your milk to the warts. In several minutes, the latex will dry out as well as become one glue like substance.
- Then forget it.
- Apply this two times per day.
- It will take around 7-10 days in order to burn out your warts.
Are you using fig sap to make your cheese? If so, we would love to hear about it (firstname.lastname@example.org)