Figs are a sought-after fruit and are usually served with some unique and wonderful pairings. Figs look quite different from other fruits. They have deep, rich colors, and small little seeds in the center.
So, what do figs taste like? Figs have a beautifully sweet, honey-like taste, which makes them great to use in desserts or used to add a sweeter dimension to a dish. They are soft in texture, and together with their sweet flavor, make for a luscious addition to any plate or meal.
Keep reading to find out why figs are so sought after, what they taste like, and some more information on this elegant fruit!
What Are Figs?
First, to understand why figs taste the way they do, it helps to know exactly what figs are.
So, what are figs?
Figs are actually not classified as a fruit but as a flower. The edible section of the fig is actually the fleshy base of the flower, and the small seeds are the small florets of the flower.
They have been cultivated for centuries, and are native to the Mediterranean and the Middle East. They grow best in dry and sunny locations, and can be eaten fresh, dried, or made into delicious jam!
The outside of a fig is a deep purple and is almost velvety to the touch. The inside of a fig is a dark pink color, full of small little seeds. Figs are shaped like a round raindrop, and both the skin and the flesh of figs are edible.
There are a few types of figs grown, with some being sweeter than others, and some being better suited for certain meals.
What Do Fresh Figs Taste Like?
Figs are one of the fruits that taste just as good as they smell. While there are different variants of figs grown, most hold to the same basic taste and texture.
All figs are deliciously sweet, with a slight honey and nutty taste, and have a soft, moist flesh.
The inside of a fig is quite difficult to describe, but it is pulpy and jelly-like, but it does not drip with juices, while still being moist. You get a delicious mouthful with the small seeds crunching as you eat it.
Here are the most common types of figs, and what their unique flavors are:
Adriatic figs are easy to tell apart from the others. They have a light green or pale yellow color and are sometimes referred to as ‘white figs’.
The inside of Adriatic figs are bright pink or brilliant red, and they hold a very sweet flavor, more so than all the other types.
This adds to their other name of ‘candy-striped figs’, which is given to them when their skin is white and green striped.
Due to their super-sweet flavor, these figs are popularly added to desserts or served as is with some mascarpone cheese.
If you are looking for the sweetest figs, Adriatic figs are the one!
Black Mission Figs
Black Mission figs are another super-sweet variety, and sometimes they even have a delicious sweet syrup oozing out.
These figs get their name from their very deep purple color which is quite stunning. The inside is a gorgeous pink color, which has a delightful sweetness that is great added to plain yogurt or fresh cheese such as mascarpone or ricotta.
They are best served sliced in half or served whole, and laid out on a cheese platter or with some soft cheese or yogurt.
Brown Turkey Figs
Brown Turkey figs are a brown-purple on the outside and have a pale pink flesh. These figs are not as sweet as other figs and have a more subtle flavor than the more potently sweet figs.
These less-sweet flavors make Brown Turkey figs great to serve in salads, where they offer a slight sweetness without being too overpowering.
You can also drizzle some honey over Brown Turkey figs to give them some extra sweetness. These are a good choice to make fig jam, as you can add in sugar to create a sweeter taste, while still having a more subtlety sweet taste.
Calimyrna figs are quite large and have green-golden skin. Their flesh is a bright pink that is a beautiful contrast with the pale outside. These figs are popularly served sliced up and served as is because they are so pretty!
Calimyrna figs have a nutty flavor that is stronger than most of the other figs, and this nutty flavor makes Calimyrna figs a good pairing on charcuterie platters.
You could even pop them on the grill for a bit and serve them up for dessert!
Kadota figs are light green with a pale flesh and are not as sweet as the other fig options. They are good to eat raw and have a very subdued flavor compared to the other fig varieties.
Because of their subdued flavor, these are best served cooked up with something or used to make preserves or jams where sweeteners and other flavors can be added in.
For Kadota figs that aren’t as sweet, you could always sprinkle some salt on top to bring out their sweetness a little more.
They are also a good option to add to salads, as they hold on to dressings well and don’t overpower the salad with too much sweetness.
These also make for great pizza toppings!
What Do Dried Figs Taste Like?
While dried figs still hold much of the same flavor as fresh figs, there is quite a difference between them.
If you are choosing to use figs for a certain meal or recipe, understanding the difference does help you choose whether to use dried or fresh.
Dried figs taste quite similar to fresh figs, and it will also depend on what type of fig was used to make the dried fig. Mostly, they are quite sweet and with a more pronounced flavor.
The biggest difference when eating dried figs is the difference in texture. Dried figs are obviously dried, and do not have the soft, juicy flesh that fresh figs do. This means they are drier and chewier, but still quite soft.
As the honey-syrup of a fresh fig is absorbed into the flesh as it dries, dried figs taste slightly more concentrated in flavor, but just with less moistness and less of a syrupy-like texture.
They are still delicious and still work great as a topping on yogurt or dessert, or served with cheese!
How To Tell When A Fig Is Ripe And Ready To Eat
It is important to ensure that a fig is ripe before cutting it up, as it will have the best flavor and texture when ripe.
There are a few different ways to determine if a fig is ripe or not:
You should be able to tell if a fig is ripe by looking at it. If the fig has a greenish tint, then it is likely not ripe.
This will depend on the type of fig, as some have a pale green/golden color, but if it appears bright green, then you will need to wait a little longer.
For darker figs, wait until the fig darkens to a purple/brown color.
Ripe figs are also generally bigger than unripe figs, and you can see this when picking them out at the grocery store, or when picking them from a tree. The riper figs will be hanging lower than unripe fruits, as they are heavier.
Figs which are ripe or mature are often soft to the touch. This is because they have become moist on the inside, and this makes them slightly softer when touched.
Unripe figs are harder, as the juices or syrups haven’t quite developed just yet. You just need to gently touch a fig to determine ripeness, and poking it a little too hard could damage it.
If you aren’t too sure if a fig is ripe by looking at its color or softly touching it, you could taste it. Ripe figs are smooth and sweet, whereas unripe figs just aren’t great tasting at all.
You should be able to determine ripeness with one bite. The only problem is that you have sliced the fig open already!
Keep any sliced unripe figs in the fridge, covered with some plastic wrap or in an airtight container, until ripened, making sure they do not spoil.
How Do You Store Fresh Figs?
Figs tend to go off and turn rancid quite quickly under the best circumstances, so storing them properly is really important if you want to be able to enjoy figs before they go bad.
The delicate fruits can be stored in a few different ways, depending on how you are wanting to use them eventually.
Some people choose to freeze figs, and to do this you can just place the figs in a sealable plastic freezer bag, squeeze out the air, and pop the figs into the freezer. This helps extend the lifespan of the figs by at least 2-3 weeks.
You can also keep the figs in the fridge, and this will add 1-2 days onto their lifespan, but keep a check that they have not turned rancid before you start eating them.
Another way to store figs is to dry them out. You could do this at home by using a food dehydrator, or you could just purchase dried figs from the shop instead. Dried figs last for a much longer time than fresh figs do!
Sometimes, you can find canned figs in the grocery store. These obviously last quite a lot longer.
How Do I Know If A Fig Has Spoiled?
It is fairly easy to tell when a fig has spoiled. The best way is to actually smell the fig. A bad fig will have a bad, sour, and rancid odor. If you pick up any hints of these, throw the fig away.
Another way to check if a fig has spoiled is to look at it and feel it. If the physical appearance does not look right, or the fig is very soft to the touch, chances are that it has gone bad and you should throw it away.
Ways To Use Figs
Figs, while super-sweet, can be used in many different ways, and work in both sweet and savory dishes.
Here are some of the best combinations to use along with figs, whether serving them fresh or cooking them up in a meal:
- Figs pair beautifully with aged cheeses. One of the most popular paired cheese with fig is blue cheese, as the saltiness and strong flavor goes well with the sweetness of a fig.
- Cured meats are often served with figs, such as pancetta and ham.
- Cooked figs are great with olives, capers, and garlic.
- To serve a drink along with figs you should opt for fortified wines and dark spirits, such as port, sherry, or rum.
- Full-bodied kinds of vinegar such as sherry or balsamic should be served with figs.
- Rich dairy products like mascarpone, crème Fraiche, and thick cream are a beautiful pairing with fresh figs. Figs are also a great topping on plain yogurt.
- Warmer spices such as cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, and star anise compliment figs well.
- Citrus fruits such as orange and lemon are good additions to figs.
A good tip to remember is to keep your knife wet with some warm water when slicing figs, as the syrup can cause a bit of a sticky mess.
Are Figs Good For You?
Figs are high in natural sugars, soluble fiber, and minerals. These minerals include calcium, magnesium, potassium, iron, and copper.
They also contain a good amount of antioxidant vitamins such as vitamins K and A, which are always great to include in your diet.
Dried figs are a good source of fiber too, a little more so than fresh figs.
Now that we’ve gone over the delicious flavor of figs, let’s answer a few related questions we thought you might have had while reading this article!
Can you eat the skin of a fig?
All parts of a fig are edible, including the pink flesh and the purple skin. However, some people do prefer to peel the skin off before eating.
The best way to enjoy a fig is to pick it off a tree and eat it whole, with the skin included, while it is still slightly warm from the sun. This is the best way to enjoy the sweet flavors and the incredibly fresh taste!
Are figs vegan?
While called a fruit, figs are not considered vegan. This is because each fig has a dead wasp inside. This is due to figs relying on wasps to reproduce, and each one contains a dead wasp.
However, the fig digests the wasp and you will not find a dead wasp when cutting open your fig.
Some vegans do not mind eating figs as the wasp died due to natural causes, and was not killed as a part of cruel farming.
Do figs taste like raisins?
Figs have a flavor slightly similar to raisins, but a little sweeter and with a more honey-nutty flavor. If you enjoy raisins and dates, then you should definitely try out a fig!
Up Next: What Does A Mango Taste Like?