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  • 5 Varieties / Flavors Every Fig Grower Should Taste.

    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).

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    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; 08-24-2015, 06:37 PM. Reason: corrections
    Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

  • #2
    Very nice. Good information to help sort out some very confusing issues that we fig growers must face, sooner, or, later...i.e. what's the flavor of a certain fig. Links provided will lead you in the right directions and provide food for thought.

    Thanks, Pete

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      You're welcome and thanks.

  • #3
    Very well written and easy to understand.

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks.

  • #4
    This info, plus ripening times and productivity, are the things some of us also need to cut back on an excessive collection of varieties.
    Last edited by eboone; 08-23-2015, 09:19 AM.
    Ed
    SW PA zone 6a

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks.
      Yes, ripening times and productivity are very important,

      The amount of time between bud break and ripening (breba and main crop) along with the approximate average daily temperature could be much more useful as a universal standard (metric) for any zone or location.

  • #5
    Thank you, Pete. Excellent information here. Thrilled to see that I have rooted cuttings going for 3 of the pictured figs (Champagne, O'Rourke, and Conadria).
    Bryant...Franklin County, VA...Zone 7a. Wish List: a 32 hour day....more sleep

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      You're welcome.
      Good luck with the plants...

  • #6
    Very well thought out and written Pete. Thanks for sharing . I wish I had read something like that a couple of years ago when my main strategy was " buy every darn fig tree "that came across . Seven, yes (7) Celestes ,and Three Brunswicks later ..... Well you get my point lol. Time to cut back on some and expand my fig horizons...

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      You're welcome.
      We are all guilty of that initial enthusiasm, which is why I've tried to share this info.

  • #7
    very informative for newby fig lovers. I wish I knew half of what I have learned this year when I started last fall. I would be so far ahead and all those dead sticks may have sprouted and grown into little trees. I am really excited about going into this fall with the forum and putting all the hints into use. After all, I did learn to color within the lines in the "Know Your Figs Coloring Book", but still wearing fig shaped dunce hat.

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      Thanks.
      Its a learning curve for most. I'm still working on keeping the trees alive in storage through Winter.

  • #8
    Would it be weird to say that I only tasted one fig ever.
    Proudly Serving in the United States Armed Forces, 2009-2017
    Everyone should have a green thumb

    Comment


    • AscPete
      AscPete commented
      Editing a comment
      No, some people who have eaten figs since childhood have only tasted two, often a dark and a light.

    • Kelby
      Kelby commented
      Editing a comment
      Don't feel bad, until recently I could count all I've had on 2 hands. The past 3 weeks I've been eating dozens a week!

  • #9
    Collecting figs from all the flavor groups is relatively simple. For example, Edible Landscaping, http://ediblelandscaping.com/products/shrubs/Figs/, considered a reputable Nursery, carries small fig trees at reasonable prices and their selection covers all the flavor groups. Their 4" pots are also guaranteed for 1 year and these same plants have provided me with ripe figs in their 1st or 2nd season of cultivation when purchased and up potted before the start of the growing season. The following is a list of the cultivars that they currently stock listed by flavor groups;

    Honey
    Lattarulla
    White Marseilles
    Kadota

    Sugar
    Brown Turkey (Southern)
    Celeste
    O'Rourke (an Improved Celeste)
    LSU Purple

    Adriatic
    Conadria
    Verte
    Panache

    Bordeaux
    Petite Negri
    Violette de Bordeaux
    Black Mission

    Dark Berry
    Hardy Chicago
    Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

    Comment


    • #10
      “Easily available” varieties have changed significantly with the Internet age. If I want to purchase any other variety of fig besides Brown Turkey or Mission locally, I have to drive for a half an hour, sometimes in frustrating bumper to bumper traffic, to the one nursery in the area with a wider stock. Even this nursery is out of good fig trees much of the year. A messy harvest of mediocre figs no one but the birds will eat doesn’t inspire anyone’s love of figs.
      It’s much easier to order from on line nurseries like Edible Landscaping, Rolling River, Trees of Antiquity, Stark's and Raintree. They usually ship beautiful trees with enough branching to make a small harvest of quality figs their first year.
      Easiest of all is eBay. No address and credit card information are needed. Just hit “Pay” and PayPal does the rest. Every imaginable exotic fig is only a click away, delivered to the front door quickly like a pizza. And we don’t even have to tip the delivery guy.
      That’s why these forums are so important for advising gardeners when making new fig purchases. Availability is no longer local and couldn’t be easier. Thanks so much especially for the flavor classification information, so we can avoid too many of one flavor.
      Mara, Southern California,
      Climate Zone: 1990=9b 2012= 10a 2020=?

      Comment


      • AscPete
        AscPete commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks for commenting.
        You're welcome, that's one of the reasons why I found this information useful, I had started to collected too many Unknown Dark Berry cultivars (Unknown Mount Etna Types).

      • eboone
        eboone commented
        Editing a comment
        But those are the best flavor!!! Well, one of them.

    • #11
      Ed,
      I agree completely, the Dark Berry (Mount Etna type) flavor is one of the best but you really only need 3 different cultivars for that group of figs.

      One each early, middle and late season ripening so they can be enjoyed over the entire season. At one point I had over 15 of the Etna types in trial, many were collected (found) unknowns.
      Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

      Comment


      • Kelby
        Kelby commented
        Editing a comment
        Don't feel too bad, I have 5 Mt Etna types planted in ground presently and several others of the dark berry persuasion.

      • Phiggy
        Phiggy commented
        Editing a comment
        What varieties of the dark berry do you have?

    • #12
      Which are early, mid and late for you, Pete?
      And is one of these more productive that others for you?
      Ed
      SW PA zone 6a

      Comment


      • AscPete
        AscPete commented
        Editing a comment
        I've only found mid season and late Mount Etna type cultivars, still looking for an early cultivar, Papa John is a late cultivar that's already been eliminated. Most healthy Etna types are productive and I haven't found one that's significantly more productive.

      • susieqz
        susieqz commented
        Editing a comment
        i find both dominicks n black triana to be very productive. moreso than most mount etnas.
        not sure if you are calling black triana a mount etna, but is sure looks like it to me.in fact, these 2 trees are close to identical. unfortunately, that includes taste.

    • #13
      I think I have all of the flavor groups covered. It will be interesting to taste the actual flavors of the defined flavor groups next year. I may have issues with the Adriatic flavor group since I have a Panache that I hear may have issues ripening in time here with my short season but I couldn't resist the unique stripes and reportedly excellent flavor.

      Thanks for posting this topic.
      Don - OH Zone 6a Wish list: Zaffiro, Moro de Caneva, Nerucciolo d'Elba, Bordissot Blanca Negra, Rubado, Black Celeste

      Comment


      • AscPete
        AscPete commented
        Editing a comment
        In the Adriatic Group Green Ischia/Verte or Stella may be able to ripen figs earlier. Good Luck.

    • #14
      This is so helpful!!! Thanks!!

      Can anyone tell me what Tena, Texas White everbearing, Gorgea Giant, Smith, Alma might be taste category wise? I'm going to get these and some others tomorrow.
      Last edited by hstark; 05-11-2016, 03:05 PM.
      Want: Marseilles Black, Col de Dame (any), figs that do great in zone 9b (new to figs, so no fig trades, but have other plant types)

      Comment


      • AscPete
        AscPete commented
        Editing a comment
        Texas White Everbearing is a Kadota type and is a Honey Group...

        Georgia Giant is reputed to be a Brunswick which is a Sugar Group...

      • don_sanders
        don_sanders commented
        Editing a comment
        Oops. I think I was thinking Texas Everbearing...

      • AscPete
        AscPete commented
        Editing a comment
        Don,
        Yes, Texas Everbearing is usually an English Brown Turkey or another fig similar to Southern Brown Turkey which are both Sugar Group.

    • #15
      Thank you very much!!
      Want: Marseilles Black, Col de Dame (any), figs that do great in zone 9b (new to figs, so no fig trades, but have other plant types)

      Comment


      • AscPete
        AscPete commented
        Editing a comment
        You're welcome.

    • #16
      It would be nice to have a master list with each variety under a taste profile. I guess we just have too many figs to do that! Maybe under the variety list? I'm curious about. Brogiotto Nero, Valle Negra, and Red Lebanese I know they can go by other names, to add to the mass confusion!
      Last edited by drew51; 05-12-2016, 09:59 AM.

      Comment


      • #17
        Drew,

        I've been updating a master list here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets...it?usp=sharing
        Zone 7A - Philadelphia
        Flavor Profiles & Variety List / Facebook / YouTube / Blog

        Comment


        • AscPete
          AscPete commented
          Editing a comment
          Thanks for sharing your spreadsheet...

      • #18
        Nice list Ross. Here's a couple more from my notes if you'd like to add them to your spreadsheet.
        Flanders Honey (maple and/or slight strawberry)
        Green Greek Adriatic Berry
        Green Ischia Adriatic Berry
        I-258 Exotic Berry
        LaRadek's EBT Sugar
        Lattarolla Adriatic
        Marylane Seedless Honey
        Nero 600 Bordeaux Berry
        Panache Adriatic Berry (Intense Berry)
        Ponte Tresa ?Exotic Berry? lemony zing just before its full fig flavor hits the palate like a semi.
        Raspberry El Molino UNK ?Exotic berry? “bright, sharp raspberry notes, complexity and moderate sweetness. This is an intense fig.”
        Sister Madeline's Green Greek UNK Adriatic Berry (strawberry)
        Stella Adriatic Berry
        Sucrette Adriatic Berry (Very sweet strawberry)
        Vasilika Sika (round leaf) Adriatic Berry
        Verns Brown Turkey Sugar
        Don - OH Zone 6a Wish list: Zaffiro, Moro de Caneva, Nerucciolo d'Elba, Bordissot Blanca Negra, Rubado, Black Celeste

        Comment


      • #19
        Love this thread!
        Talladega National Forest, Alabama, 7b, 616-814 chill hours
        figBid Listings

        Comment


        • #20
          This is an Awesome list, I have chosen my cuttings and trees by pictures of ripe fruit. I have at least one of every taste group. Yet I have only tasted ripe figs off of one tree!! I have many on the verge of ripening. I hope they make it!! Now I know somewhat what to expect!! Are there any that Just don't fit one of these catigories ? Just Awesome ASC Pete, Thank you!! and everyone else this is a great thread!!😃
          Last edited by figwood1; 09-12-2017, 07:24 PM.

          Comment


          • #21
            Hi Pete:

            You have the best science based write ups of anyone on any fruit forum that I've seen. Always excellent..!! Keep up the good work.
            Alpine, Texas 4500ft elevation Zone 7
            http://growingfruit.org/

            Comment


            • #22
              Pete, thank you for starting this wonderful topic! I'm excited by the information contributed by Don and Ross, too. It's remarkable how much a fig fan can learn from posts like these.
              Christine (Waddell, AZ Zone 9b) Wishlist: All my fig wishes have been fulfilled by OurFigs members. Thank you!

              Comment


              • #23
                Thanks and You're welcome.

                The info in this topic was posted and shared by fig forum members for years (decades). I've simply trialed, compiled and shared my experience using that info.
                Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

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