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The Five (5) Fig Flavor Groups

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  • The Five (5) Fig Flavor Groups

    How do you explain the flavor of a fresh fig to someone that has never tasted one?
    You compare it to something that they may have already tasted. That's why I've started discussions on fig flavor in "Fig Flavor Groups" (1) and "Gateway Fig Cultivars" (2), although these topics are very subjective and personal they can be approached objectively to improve and enhance the fig growing experience. Without a reference point for the actual fig flavors most growers rely on recommendations from others, this often leads to a lot of disappointment and wasted time, usually several years growing the "premium" cultivars that often disappoint with limited taste and or production. Creating a simple plan for acquiring fig flavor taste references can increase enjoyment of the fig growing and eating experiences.

    For those that have had prior exposure to fresh figs their fig flavor reference are usually based on their early taste experiences, the "Figgy Flavor" is usually connected to those fig cultivars. My earliest taste experience was of an unknown dark Italian cultivar which left me with a figgy flavor reference of a caramelized sugar like flavor. There are actually only a couple of different predominant fig flavor profiles for all fig varieties, they could be sugar or honey sweet with or without a berry flavor. Fig flavors have been placed into five groups by some more experience fig forum members based on these predominant flavors. They are Honey, Sugar, Adriatic, Bordeaux and Dark Berry. Honey and Sugar are sweet (Honey or Sugary sweet) without berry flavors but may also have their own complex flavors. Adriatic, Bordeaux and Dark Berry are usually sugary sweet with berry flavors and may also have additional complex flavors. The seeds can also add nutty flavors to the figs and those flavors are more intense when they are fertilized / caprified (3).

    Click image for larger version  Name:	honey.jpg Views:	1 Size:	230.2 KB ID:	114411Click image for larger version  Name:	sugar.jpg Views:	1 Size:	218.3 KB ID:	114412Click image for larger version  Name:	Adriatic.jpg Views:	1 Size:	182.9 KB ID:	114408

    Click image for larger version  Name:	bordeaux.jpg Views:	1 Size:	204.9 KB ID:	114409Click image for larger version  Name:	Dark.jpg Views:	1 Size:	223.3 KB ID:	114410

    Gateway figs are simply cultivars that are easily acquired and or are locally available. Choosing initial fig cultivars based on flavor groups and gateway fig cultivars has exposed my palate to the initial reference for most fig varieties. Although a criteria for gateway figs is that they are readily available these are also the same cultivars that are often mentioned as the taste metric (standard) by even the most experienced growers. In the five flavor groups, Honey, sugar, Adriatic, Bordeaux and Dark Berry the often mentioned gateway figs are Italian Honey, Celeste, Verte, Negronne and Hardy Chicago respectively. There are many other cultivars that can be switched for each flavor group based on the actual growing location and conditions. For example in warmer drier zones the group of five could be Kadota, California Brown Turkey, Mission, Adriatic and Hardy Chicago.

    There are also inherent benefits to starting your own "Group of Five". The experience gained can be used to grow other fig varieties, the specific cultivars chosen with your personal knowledge. You could confidently choose cultivars that have the flavor profiles that have a personal appeal and can be grown successfully in your specific location. You could also choose to collect cultivars from all the flavor groups to create a complete flavor collection since the confidence gained will allow you to choose fig cultivars like a seasoned experienced collector. There have been many fig collectors and growers that have posted (in the fig forums) about their experiences where they've been able to weed out less appealing cultivars but only after several years. Having the flavor references could replace years of uncertainty with years of enjoyment.

    Although it may be simplistic, this approach has actually provided me with the enjoyment of tasting figs in all the flavor groups within my first season of fig cultivation, without a large investment in time or money. Acquiring and growing healthy gateway cultivars from each flavor group can only enhance the fig growing experience and will give growers a point of reference when the premium cultivars are discussed and compared to the usual standard referenced variety's flavor and growth habits. For example When a Maltese Falcon's flavor is compared to a Mission's or a Pink Jerusalem is compared to an Italian Honey's the Bordeaux or Honey flavors will come to mind (from your personal taste experience). Cultivation of an initial flavor group of gateway figs can only enhance the fig growing experience for novice and experienced growers.


    References:
    1. http://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-ho...-flavor-groups
    2. http://www.ourfigs.com/forum/figs-ho...-fig-cultivars
    3. http://www.crfgsandiego.org/Presenta...ible%20Fig.pdf
    Last edited by AscPete; 09-30-2016, 10:15 PM.
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