Sour Fig


“Leaves are eaten by tortoises… Flowers are eaten by antelopes and baboons. The clumps provide shelter for snails, lizards, and skinks. Fruits are eaten by baboons, rodents, porcupines, antelopes, and people, who also disperse the seeds.”  Wikipedia

Caitlin Hill: We’re going through a drought at the moment, which is particularly bad in the Western Cape where I am based. I consulted forager Roushanna Gray about what we have available and what is still growing well… Enter the sour fig! Carpobrotus edulis – also known as the Ice Plant in the States, and Pigsface in Australia, it’s indigenous to South Africa but an invasive alien in other parts of the world. It grows wildly and low to the ground and doesn’t require much water. Its taste profile changes depending on when you pick it.

Although it is very well used locally and traditionally for jams, chutneys, syrups etc, Roushanna says she doesn’t know of any to successful drinks with the sour fig yet, as a) it’s quite sour and b) it’s a lot of effort to work with… I figured I would make a twist on a G&T as we are in the middle of a gin and tonic Festival just now. I ‘defruited’ the sour figs (see picture reference) and set this aside.  I then made a burnt muscovado sugar Rosso Vermouth.

Gin and tonic with sour fig vermouth

Fruits are eaten by baboons, rodents, porcupines, antelopes, and people, who also disperse the seeds

Sour Fig Muscovado Vermouth


  1. Take the zest of 2 oranges with a handful of cloves and 2 cinnamon sticks.
  2. Place in a medium saucepan on medium heat and let them heat up, releasing their flavours.
  3. After about 5 minutes or so take 1 cup of Muscavado Brown Sugar and ‘toast’ for about 10 minutes – making sure to not let crystallize and focus more on ‘burning’ the sugar.
  4. Add 1 cup of water and let them become mates, until the sugar has dissipated.
  5. Add 1 bottle of Rosso vermouth (75cl) and let simmer on a lower heat for about 20 minutes Cool.
  6. Remove orange zest and spices, add in your sour fig ‘fruit’.
  7. Re-bottle and label.

Fig Delight B&T


  • 25ml The Botanist Gin
  • 12.5ml Sour Fig Muscovado Vermouth
  • 150-200ml Indian tonic water of your choice

Garnish with orange zest & the remainder of your sour fig.

With thanks to our South African correspondants, Caitlin Hill and Roushanna Gray

more features

Due to regulations in your own country of residence, you cannot access this website

By entering you accept the use of cookies to enhance your user experience and collect information on the use of the website. Find out more