As the summer heat begins to peak, fig enthusiasts eagerly await the arrival of the main crop. But before we get to taste the delicious fruits, it's important to evaluate the varieties and understand the factors that determine their quality. Weather, specifically rain and moisture, can greatly impact the ripening stage of figs and often lead to splitting at the eye or down the side of the fruit.
In this blog post, we'll take a closer look at the varieties that have the right shape or stem length to produce higher quality fruit more often, including Moro de Caneva, Verdolino, Fico Salame, Celeste, Bakio, and many more. Join us as we explore the importance of fig shape and discover which varieties are best suited to withstand the elements and produce the most delicious figs.
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How climate affects fig fruit quality:
When figs are swelling in their final ripening stage, they are highly subjected to the weather. Hot and dry weather will make figs taste indescribably good. Rain and moisture will do the opposite and it can totally ruin the quality and even make them inedible.
Reasons that figs split:
Often figs will split at the eye or down the side of the fig due to the fast absorption of water into the skin. The eye is a particularly sensitive spot. Over the years I've observed that the overall shape of the fruit, the way it hangs while swelling, and the skin's ability to absorb or shed water are the main factor's determining how often a fig will split.
For more on why the shape of your fig is important and to help choose the right fig variety, click here:
Fig varieties that will split less:
Undoubtedly one of the best is Moro de Caneva. Note that the stem is long allowing the eye of the fig to be pointed toward the ground. Not the sky where the fig could absorb water quickly into its most sensitive location:
You'd almost never know it from the unripe figs because the unripe figs look very similar to Moro de Caneva, but another one that's next to perfect is Verdolino. This shape combined with its superb flavor easily places it in my current top 3.
Now I'm not 100% sure on this yet, but Fico Salame could be in fact the same as Verdolino. Chances I think are pretty high, but if I could choose, I'd prefer that they aren't the same, so fingers crossed. Look at how long that stem is. It'd be great to have another fig with different genetics with this awesome shape. So far this year I'm noticing quite a different leaf pattern between the two, but that is just one very unreliable aspect of identifying fig varieties. Hopefully, I am proven wrong.
Next up is Celeste. The fig that's pictured is called the One from my friend Bill B. These Celeste figs have an almost equally perfect shape to the varieties above. They're shaped like a teardrop. The technical term is called Pyriforme whereas the others above have an oval or Ovoidal shape to them. I'm not sure which shape I prefer as they both shed water easily. The other nice thing about Celeste figs or at least in the case of Black Celeste is that the skin is like a waterproof jacket. Water hits the skin and then slides right off without ever absorbing into the skin.
Lastly, I want to mention a fig that isn't perfect, but it serves the purpose of this blog post well. Because Bakio has a round shape or is Spherical it has a higher chance to split than something Ovoidal or Pyriforme, but because the variety has quite a long stem, it can hang the way it should preventing the eye from facing upwards. This similarly happens with Verdino del Nord (VR) & Campaniere:
Some others worth mentioning are Verdino del Nord (Tatiana), Hative d'Argentueil, St. Martin, Marangiana, Sister Madeline's Yellow, Grise de St. Jean, and not pictured are Aszalódó zöld, Sementino Rosso, Hunt, LSU Purple, Verdone (Nikky), Ponte Tresa, Proscuitto, Coll de Dama, De la Roca, Sucrette, Hardy Chicago, Lampiera 1, Joualle Noire, Elba, Zaffiro, Salato, Rossellino, Pissalutto:
The shape chart can be found below with another discussion on the importance of fig shape on the blog found here:
Photo was taken from Monserrat Pons' book, Fig Trees of the Balearic Islands.