Updated: Oct 21, 2022
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.