There are 1000s of fig varieties in existence, but fig varieties like Pernette Noire are worth learning about. Check out the other comprehensive variety reviews I’ve created on other fig varieties on the variety directory page found here:
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Taste grouping: Sugar Berry
Size: Small to Medium
Ripening period: Early to Midseason
Rain resistance: Above average
Hang time: Below average
Split resistance: Above average
Climate preference: Well adapted
Taste rating: 4.6/5
Light requirements: Unknown
History and Other Information
Originally grown and sold by Figaholics in California, this fig variety never picked up traction with buyers, leading to its discontinuation in sales. What captured my attention was its distinct elongated shape, which is advantageous in humid climates. This unique shape, characterized by a short stem and a long neck, allows the fig to hang with its eye facing the ground, making it less susceptible to rain damage during the ripening process.
Photos of Pernette Noire
Rain poses a challenge to many figs, as they tend to absorb moisture through their skin, causing them to expand and split. But the elongated shape of Pernette Noire, with its eye facing downward, might make it less vulnerable to rain damage at its most sensitive location. I've observed that some figs, regardless of their shape, possess skins that repel water rather than absorb it, which minimizes the risk of splitting. Thus far, Pernette Noire does a great job repelling water.
Regardless of its rain resistance, Pernette Noir ripens somewhat quickly. Its hang time is short leading to a higher quality and a well-ripened fig more consistently. This short hang time allows Pernette to be picked before and after rains almost avoiding the issue completely. They're also frequently found dried on the tree. During hot summer days, this fig is shriveled on the tree in only 3 or 4 days.
Similarities to Black Mission
The appearance of Pernette Noire is reminiscent of the much more common Black Mission fig, which initially deterred my interest. Many Black Mission variants have disappointed me in the past due to their susceptibility to cracking, splitting, and poor rain resistance. However, this fig’s performance, flavor profile, and texture pleasantly surprised me. While it has similarities to Black Mission figs, its rich, jammy pulp sets it apart. Though its flavor leans more toward sugary and figgy rather than an intense berry flavor, its slightly bitter skin adds an appealing complexity.
Photos of Black Mission