If you are looking for the perfect fruit that pairs with everything from sweet to savory, look no further than the delicious fig.
This amazing little fruit loves honey, sugar, and cinnamon, but also appreciates salt, pepper, and a wide variety of cheeses and other charcuterie edibles.
Read on as we explore the fig, what it pairs with, and why you should include these in your next wine tasting or charcuterie party.
What is a Fig?
Figs are an edible fruit of the ficus tree, native to the Mediterranean and western Asia. They can be eaten raw, with all parts being edible, or cooked in various ways.
Figs have been cultivated as a culinary treat and an ornamental flower since ancient times.
A fascinating tidbit about figs is that the flower blossoms inside the fruit, and these tiny seeds give the fig its amazing texture and crunch.
But the best part about a fig is its versatility.
You can pair figs with anything from savory dishes, desserts, cheeses, nuts, to everything in between.
They can be the star of the show or play a lovely background character as the flavor and character is so versatile.
The Taste of Fresh vs. Dry Figs
When comparing fresh figs to dry figs, calories and nutrition must be considered; dried figs contain more calories and sugar, while fresh figs contain more vitamins.
Another point, as obvious as it sounds, is that fresh figs contain more moisture.
Any recipe calling for fresh figs has moisture content in mind, so you probably don't want to substitute dried figs in recipes calling for fresh figs.
Fresh figs have a soft texture, a sweet, honey flavor, and a squishy interior with flower seeds that give them a distinctive crunch.
All parts of the fig are edible, and fresh figs can be eaten right off the tree and are especially good when still warm from the sun.
Fresh figs are available from May through November in the supermarket's produce section and at farmer’s markets.
They are wonderful in preserves, jams, hot pies, and tarts.
The natural sweetness and the crunch are a welcomed addition to most desserts.
Dried figs have a more concentrated flavor than fresh figs and don’t contain the signature crunch; the texture is chewier, but they are still packed with flavor.
They are available year-round and are a common additive in savory and sweet dishes.
Dried figs are a favorite in baked goods, puddings, and bread and are often incorporated with other fruits and nuts or eaten with salty cheeses.
Fig Varieties and Their Tastes
There are four varieties of figs with three predominant flavors: sugar, honey, and berry.
There are over 800 fig tree varieties, but the figs that are commonly eaten come from the ficus carica, the common fig tree.
1. Yellow Long Neck
Yellow long neck figs have a dominant honey flavor and thin skin.
Bursa figs are among the sweetest, with deep purple skin color. They are grown in Turkey, where the soil, climate, and growing conditions contribute to the Bursa’s distinct flavor.
3. Brown Turkey
These medium-sized Turkish figs are mild with notes of hazelnuts and French pastries.
4. Black Mission
These figs are grown in California, have a sweet flavor with a sticky and chewy texture, and are studded with seeds.
5. Texas Everbearing Figs
These unique figs are mildly sweet and are popular for canning and drying.
6. Green Figs
Green figs are among the sweetest and are commonly dried and canned because of their flavor.
7. White (Adriatic) Figs
Adriatics are nicknamed “white” because of their pale colored skin. They are often candied or dried because of their sweet flavor and are excellent in desserts.
8. Candy Stripe Figs
These unique figs have yellow and green stripes and are pear-shaped. The skin has a hint of strawberry flavor, and the Fuschia-colored flesh has a raspberry-citrus flavor.
9. LSU Figs
LSU figs are grown predominantly in Louisiana and have a sweet flavor that makes them ideal for preserves.
10. Olympian Figs
These fast-growing figs have a thin purple skin and a sweet flesh that is excellent for canning.
Where Do Figs Grow?
Figs are grown worldwide, with Turkey, Algeria, Morocco, and Spain being the top producers.
In the United States, figs are predominantly grown in California, though they can also be grown in pots where weather conditions aren't too cold.
Fig trees thrive in USDA hardiness zones 8-10, although they can survive winters in zones 6 and 7, but protection from the weather is needed.
Fig trees grow best in warm conditions and subtropical climates with full sun, which is why they are so popular in the Mediterranean.
What Are Figs Used For?
Figs have a long and colorful history and have been cultivated in the Mediterranean for over 6,000 years, with the first trees being cultivated in Egypt or Arabia in 4,000 B.C.
Fig trees quickly spread across the ancient Mediterranean with the Greeks and Romans and were often given sacred status.
They are an extremely important part of culinary history!
Figs are also a natural aphrodisiac that boost one’s libido and sex drive and are known to increase a woman’s fertility and men’s sperm count.
Here are some recipes for fig bread and fig chutney we think you’ll love.
What to Serve with Figs
Figs are an amazing fruit, as they pair so well with almost anything and are especially good with charcuterie items like prosciutto, bacon, and salted cheeses.
They are delicious with blue cheese, olives, garlic, and full flavor vinegar like balsamic.
Nuts and dairy are wonderful accompaniments to figs, which is why they are so amazing in desserts.
Cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, and allspice are just a few spices that blend nicely with the natural sweetness of figs.
Here are some articles that highlight charcuterie items like capicola, gruyere, and brie cheese.
Throw some delicious roasted figs in the mix and have a party.
Can You Eat the Skin on Figs?
Yes, every part of the fig is edible, including the seeds.
How Long Does it Take to Dry a Fig?
Six to eight hours in a dehydrator. Place the figs cut side up on a dehydrator rack and ensure space between them.
Set the dehydrator to 135°F or on the "fruit" setting for six to eight hours, or until they are dry to the touch.
How Long are Dried Figs Good For?
Twelve months in an airtight container. In hot and humid conditions, it is best to store dried figs in the refrigerator.
How Do You Eat Figs?
Figs are enjoyed raw, canned, dried, candied, roasted, baked, broiled, or grilled.
When are Figs in Season?
Mid - May through November for most varieties.
For some varieties, like the Black Mission, there are two growing seasons: the first is in June, while the second is from August to October.
Figs are a hardy and delicious fruit that come in many varieties and flavors. They pair with almost anything and can be eaten in a myriad of ways: raw, roasted, grilled, or broiled.
All parts of the fig are edible and they are often eaten with nuts, cheeses, and added to baked good. Because they are delicate, figs are normally dried or canned.
The natural sweetness is ideal for balancing out salty notes found in cheeses and other savory dishes.
Although there are over 800 varieties of figs, the three main flavors are honey, sugar, and berry, which makes them an ideal choice for many dishes.