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Before we get into flavor profiles and eventually texture, it's crucial to understand the basic components of what a fig tastes like. For instance, if you stripped down a fig to its most basic sense, what do they taste like? All figs have varying degrees of dried fruit, melon, berry and sugar flavors.
The 4 Basic Components of Fig Flavor
Figs have a base "figgy" flavor similar to what you'll find in dried fruits like raisins, dates, persimmons or dried figs. These dried fruit flavors intensify as the fruit ripens and dries. This flavor is particularly prominent in "Sugar" figs.
When harvesting under ripe figs, a melon-like & resinous flavor is often present. The resin flavor eventually fades and the subtle melon flavors can become overpowered. However, some varieties (especially "Honey" figs) will retain a strong melon profile as they ripen.
Aside from melons, an additional fruitiness can be found in figs. This fruit flavor is often referred to as the term "Berry." The fruitiness can range from a mild fruit punch, grape, mulberry or strawberry to something stronger such as raspberries, kiwi or currants.
Similar to most fruits, the fig produces its own nectar. Often this nectar is visible dripping from the eye or pooling in the void and every variety has a nectar with its own unique sugar flavor. Some taste like honey (and even resemble it), caramel, cotton candy or other sugar flavors.
Fig Flavor Profiles
Now that we know what the building blocks of fig flavor are, lets talk about the 3 most common flavor profiles; Sugar, Honey & Berry. Because they're so common and distinguishable, it's easy to assign a categorical name to each profile.
Melon undertones with dried fruit flavor and unique sugars.
High in melon flavor with a honey-like sugar and nectar.
Figs that strongly taste of berries or other fruits.
The following profiles are either combinations or variations of the 3 profiles mentioned above. Typically the complex berry category of fig varieties are what a fig connoisseur desires most, but I would argue to try and find one or multiple varieties from each profile. This will allow you to partly understand the amazing genetic diversity of Ficus Carica.
A sugar fig at heart, but with mild & fruity berry flavors. Often you'll taste grape, strawberry and/or fruit punch.
A melon fig that when intensified and ripened properly has a strong melon & berry flavor. Not commonly found.
A berry fig that has an overwhelming and strong cherry flavor.
The most complex and strongly flavored berry figs. Often you'll taste raspberry, blackberry, currant, and/or honeyberry.
Easily could pass as either a sugar or a honey fig. Usually sugar sweet, but with strong honey and melon tones.
A hard to come by profile that is a honey fig first and foremost, but with fruit berry flavors.
Don't Forget About Texture
I know that this resource is about flavor, but just as important as the flavor is the texture & skin. I find there are 3 main textures within figs; meaty, jammy and congealed gel. The skin comes in varying thickness and often has its own separate flavor & texture that can be bitter, nutty or figgy. While these groupings are a great starting point, flavors WILL change depending on your growing conditions, caprification, length of ripening & taste buds.
Please see the table below for a variety list of figs within their respective flavor groups.
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