Fresh figs can truly be a delight to eat, a fresh fruit that grows quite easily in the Mediterranean and in Europe, but is enjoyed by many in the US.
Figs made their way into our culture mainly through Italian immigration and their fusion of Italian and American cuisines.
Figs are enjoyed greatly by the Italians whose native country is home to many Figs varieties.
Today we will discuss the fig, what it is, what their taste is, and what you can do with figs at home. Keep reading to learn more about figs, fruit, and how to use them!
What Is A Fig?
Figs are the ‘fruit’ of the ficus carica tree. The ficus carica is regularly grown across the world even purely for purely ornamental purposes.
Many love their chalky white bark and the naturally unique leaves they sprout, as well as a chance for them to flower and produce fruit.
They are native to the Mediterranean but also western parts of Asia.
In the modern day it is actually North Africa, specifically Egypt, Morocco, and Algeria, who produce and export the most figs.
Accounting for around 64% of all fig production. The edible fig is actually one of the first ‘fruits’ to ever be historically cultivated for food by humans, dating back to early Neolithic times.
You may be surprised to learn that a fig, horticulturally at least, is actually not a fruit at all. Put simply, most trees create a flower where a fruit then comes from, like an apple or peach.
However, with a ficus tree, the pod is created first and the flowers actually bloom inside this pod and create the fruit this way.
As the plants mature each flower within the pod then produces single seed (true) fruit which is then ready to eat.
So when we eat a single fig we are actually eating multiple fruits at one time, a fig is instead an inverted flower, rather than a true fruit.
What Do Figs Taste Like?
A fresh fig has a unique taste that is quite different to other forms of fig that are more processed.
That said, there are some varieties of flavor within fresh figs themselves, each of which is changed by the variety of fresh fig you may be eating.
Typically, a fresh fig is pretty juicy, they have their own kind of sugary liquid that will naturally seep out as you bite into the ruby red flesh.
Note that most external peel of most figs is edible as well as the fruit and pith, but this can change a little per variety.
Although a common fig in the US is the black mission fig. This variety of fig was brought over from Spain to the shores of California along with Spanish churches.
The black mission fig does actually have edible skin and is more
A fresh fig has a natural honey like flavor that is sweet and rich but also has some other fruity notes in there that is similar to berries that is relatively acidic in its flavor.
Put simply, fresh figs balance the sweetness and richness with an acidity of even earthiness.
For example in Turkey a variety of ficus over there produces a ‘fruit’ that is much milder in its sweetness, it is actually a little more earthy and nutty in its flavors and can taste quite like port wine or red wine, the latter beverages being good points of comparison to the fresh fig flavor.
Moreover there is another variety common in California, known as the brown turkey fig, which is also noted for being less ‘figgy’ in flavor and being more reminiscent of a melon or persimmon.
While darker in the color of its skin it is actually less sweet, showing that fig skin color has very little to do with its sweetness or flavor.
Many fig fans will suggest that more processed varieties of figs can have a different taste to the fresh fruit altogether and suggest not to compare the two.
Put another way, the taste of a fresh fig is quite unique and hard to replicate, while the processed figs that you may have had will taste more sweet and specifically of sugar or something similar.
What About Processed Figs?
Ever had a fig roll? They are pretty common in the UK and generally in Europe and they are a sweet biscuit that has a filling of processed fig.
The fig filling is quite dark and rich in its flavor and not necessarily sweet but more similar to a date or raising in its flavor.
These processed fig jams, and pastes, like you would find in the middle of a fig roll, or even in a dried fig, is noticeably different to a fresh fig.
The fresh fig is much more complex in its flavors, sweet but also acidic or even nutty and earthy.
Processed fig jams or paste are much richer in flavor and are similar to dates with that caramel, molasses like flavor that is ideal for baking purposes.
How To Use Figs In Cooking
As mentioned, many will argue a fresh fig is best and any level of processing such as cooking or preserving turns this fig flavor into something a little different.
Honey Roasted Figs With Yogurt
This is a great way to use figs without sacrificing too much of this natural flavor.
This is a perfect breakfast to get your bowel moving but is generally really healthy and good for your gut health, full of great fiber and bioactive ingredients.
In any case the outcome is really tasty, preserves thai fig flavor well, but adds a sweet element that is so great and showcases the flavor of the fig well.
Fresh Fig Cookies
While this involves a little baking and added sweet elements, throwing fresh figs into this dish is a really clever way to continue to preserve this fig flavor.
Cookies are pretty ebay to make as well. The addition of fresh figs creates something that is like a date or raisin cookie but with a little more brightness and acidity.
Super yummy and great to get kids into their figs as well.
Fig And Almond Cake
Almond is one flavor that pairs perfectly with figs, this cake is easy to make and is quite classy and sophisticated in its nuanced flavors.
This is an ideal cake to serve with tea or coffee as well as being an ideal way to use fresh figs and bring out their natural sweetness through the cooking process
So, it should be clear that a fresh fig has quite a unique flavor, one that is certainly worth trying. There is nothing that compares to a fresh fig, not even a cooked or preserved fig.
The former has acidity and even earthiness or nuttines in addition to syrup-like sweetness, but the latter is much more rich and sweet and similar to a date in its flavors.
There are a huge number of cooking applications for figs in general, you can use fresh figs without any cooking and have them for breakfast with yogurt, or can use them as they are commonly used, in baking or even salads.
What Do Fresh Figs Taste Like? What Can We Use Fresh Figs For?Course: Taste Like
- Cut each fig in half from stem end to base.
- Arrange in a single layer in a broiler-safe baking pan.
- Scrape the seeds from half a vanilla bean and dollop a bit onto each fig half.
- Drizzle with honey. Broil for about five minutes, until warm and jammy.
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