An Exquisite Dish. Nice way to use those fresh picked figs.Great on a bed of white rice or mashed potatoes and a fresh green green salad. Fresh figs contain ficin, a proteolytic (protein-breaking) enzyme similar to papain in papayas and bromelin in fresh pineapple. Proteolytic enzymes split long-chain protein molecules into smaller units, which is why they help tenderize meat. Ficin is most effective at about 140-160°F, the temperature at which stews simmer, and it will continue to work after you take the stew off the stove until the food cools down. Making this a good leftover meal. Temperatures higher than 160°F inactivate ficin; canned figs—which have been exposed to very high heat in processing—will not tenderize meat. Both fresh and dried figs contain pectin, which dissolves when you cook the figs, making them softer.