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What Do Figs Taste Like? Get To Know Their Flavor!


Have you ever had figs? If not, then you might be wondering about its flavor. What do figs taste like? Do they taste like any other fruit?

These fruits were once considered exotic, so not everyone is familiar with them. Nothing beats having a bite of figs if you want to find out what it tastes like. But getting as much information about them won’t hurt either. 

Table with figs sliced in half showing the ripe insides.

What Are Figs?

Figs are fruits with a teardrop shape belonging to the Moraceae or mulberry family.

People treat and eat them like fruits (we’ll call them fruits in this article), but they’re not.

The edible fig is actually a collection of inverted flowers inside a shell. These flowers each have a single seed within an edible pear-shaped pod. 

You’ll see something reminiscent of guava when you cut them open.

There are white, red, black, and green figs. 

They spoil easily, so finding fresh figs may be challenging unless you live in an area where they grow. And when you do find fresh ones, they’re usually expensive. 

Types of Figs

There are many kinds of figs, but the most popular ones are Black Mission, Calimyrna, and Brown Turkey figs. 

Black Mission Figs

Originating from Spain, the black mission fig has a deep purple, almost black, skin. It turns completely black when dried. The flesh is chewy, with a dark pink hue. Mission figs are also crunchy due to their seeds.

Calimyrna Figs

Originally from Smyrna, a city in Turkey, people once called these figs “Smyrna figs.” When people brought them to California, they started calling it “Calimyrna.” These figs are either yellow or light green. They have amber flesh and are typically larger than black mission figs.

Brown Turkey Figs

Brown Turkey figs have brownish-purple skin. They don’t come from Turkey, despite their name. Instead, they hail from France. The flesh of a Brown Turkey fig is pinkish brown, and they grow twice the size of a black mission fig.   

What Do Figs Taste Like?

The flavor of figs depends on their kind, but the basic taste of all figs is sweet. They taste like a combination of honey and berries. For this reason, people use them as a sweetener in the absence of sugar.

Mission figs have a honeyed taste combined with an acidic and fruity flavor.

Calimyrna figs, on the other hand, possess a subtle nutty flavor. 

Brown Turkey Figs have mild hints of hazelnuts and melon with honey-like notes.

Dried Figs vs. Fresh Figs: Which Tastes Better?

Dried figs are among the most common forms of figs you’ll see in stores. Obviously, these are just dehydrated versions of fresh ones. That said, they lack the moisture that makes fresh figs taste great. On the bright side, dried figs are much sweeter than fresh ones.

Ultimately, the question of which one tastes better depends on your preference. If you’re in the mood for something juicy, then fresh figs will taste better for you. But dried figs are the clear winner if you are after an intensely sweet and juicy flavor. 

Where Are Figs Grown? 

Figs grow and thrive in areas where the climate is warm. That said, you mostly find them in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

Figs grow in the following areas:

  • Turkey
  • Egypt
  • Iran
  • Syria
  • Spain
  • Greece
  • Morroco
  • Tunisia
  • Algeria

In the US, people cultivate most of the figs in California alone. Despite this, the US is the eighth top fig-producing country globally.

Where to buy figs?

If you live in areas where figs grow, you can buy them fresh in grocery stores and farmers’ markets.

When purchasing fresh figs, remember that unripe figs don’t ripen once harvested. Because of this, you should only buy ripe ones. 

Another alternative is to buy figs in canned, dried, or frozen forms.

How to Tell if Figs are Ripe

There are a few ways to tell ripe and unripe figs apart.

1. First, you can tell by the weight. A ripe fig is heavy and dense. After all, it is full of tiny flowers. That said, you can say that fig is ripe when it looks like it is about to fall from the tree by itself.  

2. Second, you should gently squeeze the fruit. An unripe fig will feel firm, while a ripe one will feel soft with a little give. If it feels mushy, though, then you have an overripe fruit. 

3. Lastly, you should check its bottom. Figs have a tiny, round opening at the bottom. When the figs are fully ripe, you can observe a clear syrup oozing from that opening. 

Culinary Uses of Figs

Figs are versatile and useful in the kitchen. Most people enjoy eating fresh figs raw as a snack.

You can bake, grill, or broil a fresh fig. Figs are perfect additions to cake and dessert recipes, owing to their honeyed flavor. You can also make them into jams, jellies, and preserves. 

With their sweet flavor, figs pair well with cured meats like bacon and prosciutto. They pair well with roasted pork, too.  

The taste of figs blends greatly with cheeses like Monterey Jack, Edam, and Gouda. Figs are also wonderful with Brie, like my easy Baked Brie with Fig Jam recipe.

Chopped fresh figs are popular additions to salads and toppings to pizzas! Note that if your recipe calls for fresh figs, you can use dried or canned figs as replacements.

Table with served canapes topped with sliced figs.

Nutritional Benefits of Figs

Figs are free of cholesterol, fat, and gluten. They’re great sources of iron, calcium, and potassium. 

Fiber and magnesium are also present in these fruits. You’ll get Vitamins A, C, and K, too. 

On top of that, figs boast anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties as well. Indeed, including figs in your meals will give you your fill of nutrients!

Do Figs Taste Like Raisins?

Yes, figs share some similar flavor notes with raisins. This is especially when eating dried figs as they have a similar texture too. But figs are sweeter and may sometimes have nutty nuances. That said, they are not an exact flavor match.  

How Do You Store Figs Properly?

Fresh figs are highly perishable. If you plan to eat them soon, keep them refrigerated. Stored this way, they’ll keep for a week at the most. Freeze them to extend their shelf life to a year. On the other hand, dried figs stay good for 6-12 months at room temperature. 

Are Raw Figs Edible?

Yes, you can eat figs raw. In fact, fresh figs are best when you eat them this way. All parts of ripe figs are edible, so you only need to ensure they’re clean before taking a bite.

Summary

What do figs taste like? Well, that depends on the variety of figs. But all of them taste sweet, which is why they are almost always compared to honey. Some have hints of flavors from other fruits, like melons. There are figs that taste nutty, like hazelnuts, too, while others have some acidic notes.

There is also a difference in taste when you compare fresh figs to dried ones. Fresh figs have a milder, juicier taste than dried figs. Dried figs taste sweeter and possess a raisin-like flavor. Ultimately, both taste good and are worth trying!

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Natalia | Flavorful home
Natalia is a recipe developer, food photographer, and home cook. She started Flavorful Home to document her recipes and share home cooking tips. She loves creating flavorful and nutritious meals while keeping the cooking process simple and joyful!

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