If you want to try fruits with a unique texture, then you must try figs!
Hardly any fruits can match the sweetness of a deliciously ripe fig. The soft and yielding figs are full of tiny seeds that give them their iconic texture.
Most varieties of figs are intensely sweet, so they are perfect for adding in various desserts, such as pies and even savory meat dishes.
If you are wondering, “what is a fig exactly?” then keep reading.
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What Is a Fig?
A fig is a fruit that grows on fig trees. These trees have been cultivated since ancient times and are also quite popularly used for ornamental purposes.
They are grown in sunny and dry locations and are native to the Middle East and the Mediterranean.
Figs are unique because they are created when the flowers of the fig trees bloom inside a pear-shaped pod, which later turns into a fig.
A fig consists of several hundred to several thousand tiny seeds, which give the fruit its unique texture!
Types of Fig
There are multiple varieties of fig, and although they have different degrees of sweetness, they taste more or less the same.
Brown Turkey and Black Mission figs are some of the most common varieties readily available in the markets.
However, you can also find other fresh varieties of fig, such as the pale green Kadota figs and the striped Adriatic figs.
What Do Figs Taste Like?
Fresh figs have a honeyed and sweet taste and a soft, almost-squishy, and seedy texture, which is unique.
They taste vastly different from dry figs, which are also pretty tasty. Put merely; sweet is the word that I’d use to describe a fig’s flavor.
Figs have a juicy bite to them, and the syrupy liquid that oozes out of them has subtle notes of berry and honey.
How to Cook With Figs
Perhaps the best thing about this delicious fruit is that you can cook figs with both savory and sweet foods. There are numerous ways in which you can cook with figs.
You can add them to various mixed fruit jams, salads, ice creams, and more. However, my absolute favorite pairing is fig and cheese!
This is because the sweetness of the figs perfectly offsets the saltiness of the cheese. So, go ahead and pair it with blue, goat, mozzarella, or aged parmesan cheese.
You can also pair figs with aromatics such as olives, garlic, or capers or citrusy fruits, such as orange and lemon. Cured meat, such as bacon, pancetta, and ham, also works well with figs.
Additionally, you can also pair figs with fortified wines and dark spirits such as rum, sherry, brandy, and port.
You can also pair figs with warm spices such as cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon, and more. Another delightful food combination is creamy foods and figs; the creaminess of ice cream, mascarpone, creme fraiche, or even whipped cream works perfectly to balance the sweetness of the figs.
Tips on Buying Figs
Here are some tips on buying figs:
▶ Figs have two seasons, the first and shorter season comes in early summer, and the more extended season comes in late summer and runs through fall.
- With that said, since figs can’t withstand temperatures below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, you can’t find them from local sources in the northeast US and a large chunk of Midwest.
- This is why if you spot fresh figs in the supermarket, then buy them right away as you don’t know how long they’ll be in store for.
▶ Figs are an incredibly fragile fruit. This is why it’s quite rare to find unmarred figs.
- So, when shopping for figs, pick the slightly wrinkled one.
- It can even have a little split in the skin.
- Wrinkly skin and a bent stem are both signs of ripeness.
▶Avoid buying figs that are shrunken, squishy, oozing syrupy juice from the splits, or have milky liquid around their stems as they are probably overripe.
▶Also, make sure that you don’t pick out moldy figs. Just look for signs of mold on the underside of the container, and if there’s mold growing in it, then stay away from those figs.
How to Store Figs
As mentioned above, fresh figs are pretty fragile, which makes them quite perishable. This is why when you buy figs, make sure to eat them within a day or two.
Keep them at room temperature in a place where there’s free air circulation so that they don’t go bad. Even though they will last longer if you keep them in the fridge, the cold air will steal some of their flavor, which is why it’s better to just devour them right away.
The Bottom Line
I hope this article answered your question, “What is a fig?” They are a type of fruit with a sweet flavor and a unique texture, thanks to the thousands of tiny seeds that reside in them.
You can eat both fresh and dry figs and pair them with various foods, which truly makes them an incredibly versatile and delicious fruit!
So, what are you waiting for? Go try some figs out!