I want to preface this blog post and say that there are A LOT of big name, expensive & highly flavored figs. The problem with most of these is that for a large majority of us growing figs in the US, we rarely get to experience the amazing flavors that these figs so highly tout. Take Black Madeira for example. It's unanimously a very good tasting fig among fig hobbyists, but how many do I get to enjoy in the Philadelphia area? Well this year I enjoyed a total of 1. The remainder split, fermented and attracted fruit flies, so realize that in this post, it wouldn't be fair to talk about the figs that taste the best if you can't enjoy them on a consistent annual basis. Figs are highly specific to your location, climate and of course the varieties' genetics themselves play a huge role and that is why these recommendations are tailored to the points made above.
Coll de Dama - The "CDD" types are figs that just like the Black Madeira are very highly regarded unanimously by fig hobbyists in the flavor department. CDD figs come in many colors and names, but have no doubt that you will enjoy Grise, Noire, Blanc, Gegantina, Mutante & Rimada. What makes them so special is the texture. The flavor is hard to beat too, but the overall eating experience is made special by their thick, dense, sticky, jammy, gooey pulp. They are the standard to which I measure all other in the texture department.
De la Roca (MP) - As good as the CDDs are, I figure there must be something that exists that's better. Because of the vast genetic diversity of this fruit and the literal 1000s of fig varieties of Ficus Carica that exist there must be something that tastes similar to the CDDs in texture, but also performs better. I can confidently say that De la Roca is that CDD replacement. What separates it from the CDDs is its ease of drying on the tree. Because of this, it has extremely good resistance to rain and splitting and therefore produces a higher quality fig that consistently reaches peak ripeness more frequently.. The texture, shape, texture are all quite similar, but it's overall superior in a humid place. Not only that but the flavor is better because the figs intensify here and turn into a semi-dried or dried fig further bringing out the flavor. It's like eating a fig grown in California, but I'm in Philadelphia. It is the perfect eating experience and therefore is the best tasting fig I grow.
Smith - Oh the amazing Smith. With the combination of a nice thick texture, strong berry flavor, slight acidic and high sweetness, it's really hard to beat. You'll be sure to realize the complexity of the flavor with each bite.
Hative d'Argenteuil (USDA) - This fig is somehow just as complex if not more complex than Smith. In fact, I would rate it as the most complexly flavored fig I grow. Similar to Smith, but more juicy as it's filled with fig nectar, a little softer, more acidic with a distinct cherry flavor. It's simply outstanding.
Paradiso (Siro) - There are a lot of figs with the name Paradiso, but most are not the same. Some growers in the US have taken it upon themselves to name their fig Paradiso as to them.. it is their paradise. This one from a commercial grower named Siro in Italy I believe is the closest Paradiso to what Paolo Belloni grows and also to what Gallesio has depicted in his drawings. Having said all this, it is very highly flavored. Even well into the fall weather. Unlike any other fig I grow. I guess the closest comparison is to a Panache or the CDDs as again.. it has that perfect texture that I look for. Very dense, thick & cakey. Quite a bit better texture than say Smith.
Paradiso (Baud) - I warned you... there are many figs with the name Paradiso. This one coming from renowned fig expert Baud in France and is quite different than the one from Siro. It's probably right up there with De La Roca and if I had to choose a fig to rank behind Roca and ahead of the CDDs, it would be this one. Perfect cakey texture with a flavor that's exquisite, elegant and fit for a king. I'm truly in paradise when eating this fig when it's perfectly ripened.
Moro de Caneva - This fig goes by many names. Some you may hear are: Figo Moro, Nerino, Fico Secco or Szivarfuge. What's quite incredible is that it's actually a commercial variety and a fine one at that. Usually commercial figs like Black Mission or Brown Turkey are lacking in the flavor category. Not this one. Finely textured. Very sweet, figgy with a moderate berry flavor. It's like eating fig candy when ripened to perfection, which creates an explosion of flavors in your mouth. Best picked when left to shrivel on the tree.
Rossellino - When semi-dried the variety turns into fig candy and is ridiculously sweet, exploding with flavor and is very hard to beat, but it's even more complex and super fruity in that state than the Caneva, which believe it or not happens rather consistently here. The difference is.. it actually does have drying capabilities and some that are actually quite good.
De la Senyora (Hivernenca) (MP) - Just like De la Roca, this fig comes from Pons' collection. Although it is quite different than Roca and more along the lines of a Black Madeira. In fact.. I've titled a blog post here on FigBoss describing the reasons why called, "De la Senyora - The Black Madeira killer." I believe it's similar enough in flavor and the overall eating experience is similar to Black Madeira, but it's better in almost all categories. Shorter hang time, better split/rain resistance, even has a better flavor. This fig will blow you away if you're a fan of those very syrupy types of figs.
Azores Dark & Malta Black - I'm putting these in the same entry simply because they're both Hardy Chicago types. They're both highly flavored, densely textured that can easily dry on the tree. Strong berry notes in each with very high sweetness. Strawberry and concord grape in Azores. Raspberry in Malta Black. Both with good figgy dried fruit flavors to boot. Not appreciated enough in my climate.
Verdino del Nord (VR) - Can't forget to leave this fig out of the discussion because its berry flavor is off the charts along with Black Madeira & DLS Hivernenca. It also has some of the best drying capabilities allowing you to pick this fig fresh or in a semi or fully dried state. It's super sweet with a very high brix, elegantly flavored and has close to the perfect CDD texture.
White Triana - Last but not least is White Triana. This is without a doubt one of the most underrated figs I grow. Separating it from other varieties is its super thick nectar, dense texture and melon notes that last throughout ripening. It's definitely in its own unique category. Most figs lose their melon notes as they ripen, but this one does not. Melon-y, moderate berry notes and figgy. A hard combo to come by at such quality.
Other figs not mentioned: Nerucciolo d'Elba, Campaniere, Blanche de Deux Saison, Adriatic "type" figs, Bourjassotte Grise, Violet Sepor, Socorro Black, Dels Ermitans, Pastiliere, Ronde de Bordeaux, Albo & Sucrette.
Check out the fig variety directory page for more information on the many fig varieties!