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  • Mt. Etna taste comparison

    We continue to have nice weather for ripening figs in Maryland. Alas, I need to eliminate some redundancies in my collection to make space for a few new ones. I have three Mt. Etna types - Takoma Violet, Marseilles vs Black and Sal'sEL. They are all in their 3rd season and have been growing in the ground since Spring, 2014. The Sal'sEL and TK get about 7 hours of direct sun per day while the MvsB probably only gets about 5. They lost most of their top growth after last winter but have come back to produce fruit starting around Sept. 1. Today I was able to get pretty much ideally ripe (at least for my taste) figs off of all three for a taste comparison. They all have the same flavor profile and are nice tasting figs. However, to me, Marsielles vs Black has a richer, more creamy flavor than the other two. The Sal'sEL and Takoma Violet were indistinguishable in their flavor. Has anyone else tasted these side-by-side?

    Two of these must go so if anyone wants to adopt a nice fruit bearing Sal'sEL or TK, and can pick it up in MD, then let me know.
    You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 2 photos.
    Steve
    D-i-c-k-e-r-s-o-n, MD; zone 7a
    WL: Nantes Maroc

  • #2
    Tony (mountainfigs) will be one of the go to growers for Etna information. He's got a lot of them and is studying them to try and determine the bests of the bunch.

    I have Hardy Chicago, Marseilles Black VS (how did Herman's initials end up in the middle of that fig's name anyway? Shouldn't they be attached at the end like Adriatic JH?) Gino's Black, Unknown Owensboro and Colasanti Dark. All but the latter two have ripened fruit and I should get fruit off of them soon.

    Hardy Chicago has produced the best fruit overall, but has been inconsistent in quality. Last year Gino's produced the single best Etna fruit I've eaten on a small 2nd year tree that gave me two ripe fruits. This year it's still a slow grower and has delivered only two ripe fruits so far, which were about the same as My HC and MVSB have been this season. It gets the least sun of my Etna's, so that's worth considering. MVSB has been disappointing overall for me. It fruits better than HC, but I've always thought the quality somewhat inferior and it has not been a strong grower, though an air layer I made from it last year is growing much better than my mother plant. Maybe I need to keep the AL and sell the mother.

    Like you, I will soon reduce my Etna collection to one or two of them, as they don't taste different enough for me to keep all of them around. Every northern grower should have at least one Etna, but five or six seems excessive if you want to keep your collection manageable and broaden the variety of figs you grow.
    Neil
    Reno, 6b

    Comment


    • Rewton
      Rewton commented
      Editing a comment
      Neil, thanks for your report. As far as vigor, Sal'sEL seems to be a slightly better grower than MvsB and TK but they are all three good growers.

  • #3
    Steve,
    Thanks for doing this! I also have the same 3 plus a StRita and need to free up the space. My MBVS is in the ground and was a superb fig. I probably will keep the Takoma just because of the hardship I went through to get this fig and keep growing, the others will have to go.

    I also have a NJ Red and an Unk from Taverna78 (Mike). Anybody can say how they compare to a MBVS?
    Last edited by greenfig; 09-16-2015, 07:27 PM.
    USDA z 10a, SoCal. WL: Raspberry Tart, Boysenberry Blush

    Comment


    • Rewton
      Rewton commented
      Editing a comment
      The fruit shape of my St. Rita is a bit different from the Mt. Etna's but I agree that in pretty much all other respects it fits into the same class.

  • #4
    I seem to have accumulated a lot of what many folks categorize as Mt Etna. Of those 3 I would keep the Takoma Violet
    Phil North Georgia Zone 7 Looking for: All of them, and on and on,

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    • #5
      This year the Mt Etna types have been my favorites, over the high end figs. I Have to agree about the taste profile. I probably couldn't tell the difference if I had a blindfold on. Though my Mt Etna are way darker than yours.
      I'm growing HC, Black Greek, Takoma Violet, MBvs, Spanish Black(Marius), Sals El
      and a bunch of unknowns that have been really good.
      Art
      Western Pa -6a

      Comment


      • Rewton
        Rewton commented
        Editing a comment
        Wow, that's quite a statement with all the high end figs you grow! Do you grow them in containers?

      • kubota1
        kubota1 commented
        Editing a comment
        Yeah, they are all in containers. I do have a bunch inground that probably won't ripen in time.

    • #6
      The TV and MBVS are both keepers here for me.
      Kerry - NH zone 5

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      • #7
        Bah, Steve. I would have taken both off your hands when I was up there. There's never enough time for trips anymore.
        Alma from Maryland 7b

        Comment


        • Rewton
          Rewton commented
          Editing a comment
          I probably won't take them out until next Spring so let me know if you change your mind.

      • #8
        Figo Preto or Black Madeira? Same cultivar, two different strains of a sort, due to Madeira apparently being more hampered by FMV. Rightly or wrongly, that's how I currently view the many named Mt Etna types, as a single cultivar with different strains of a sort, due to some apparently being more hampered by FMV, or possibly more hampered, somewhat. Or maybe my various pot and ground growing conditions are what hampers some of them, some years.

        There may be other differences between the Mt Etnas, but if so they are too fine for me to discern, so far.

        I haven't come across any Mt Etnas that seem badly hampered by FMV. Sometimes some may seem to be, and then later they don't.

        I do have some Mt Etna "strains" that do seem to consistently perform better than others but I've only been growing them for 4 summers, so not a very long time frame for reference and comparison. Things could change.

        I would suggest that anyone go with their heart and gut on these. Have one that means something to you? Or from an area you like? Go with it. Have one that you have a hunch about? Or heard good things about? Go with it. Have one that you simply like the name of? Go with it. Or go heady and read up on and calculate everyone's experiences with various named Mt Etnas. Then go with whatever you've deduced, induced, or produced. Had bad luck with one strain? Try another.

        I've had good experiences with a bunch of Mt Etnas - currently growing 2 dozen or more differently named - some of which I've documented online. Each year new Mt Etnas seem to step forward and prove themselves. And there has been no backsliding thus far. Mt Etnas that have done well in the past have continued to do well in subsequent years.
        Tony WV 6b
        https://mountainfigs.net/

        Comment


        • Rewton
          Rewton commented
          Editing a comment
          Tony, thanks for your comment. I find it is really hard to decide which figs to keep and which to part with because so many factors affect taste (and performance). Tonight I had a Takoma Violet that was at least as good as the MvsB that I had yesterday. Maybe the ones yesterday were not perfectly ripe afterall? I guess you can't go wrong with these and it will have to be a "hunch".

        • mountainfigs
          mountainfigs commented
          Editing a comment
          I think that's it, Steve. You can't go wrong. That said, if something does go wrong - whether the grower's fault or the fig's fault, something not always easy to distinguish - then there is always air-layering or any number of other named Mt Etnas to try. It's conceivable that, say, Takoma Violet is a superior flavor strain of Mt Etna. I don't know that it's likely or easily provable, but it is conceivable. It's conceivable that Marseilles Black is a superior productivity strain of Mt Etna. Don't know that it's likely but it is conceivable. I would guess that there are a lot of Marseilles Blacks going around bearing other names, or vice versa. Nevertheless, I'm fond of various named Mt Etnas for widely divergent reasons, real or imagined. And I intend to retain not only multiple but many trees of this variety because it's by far my most robust variety - especially in-ground - most productive variety, and easily one of my favorite flavors. It's my favorite fig. I require a lot of them around. Gino's Black, Marseilles Black, Takoma Violet, Zingarella, Mt Etna Unknown, Hardy Chicago, etc, have all had special seasons here. I'm not sure what if anything distinguishes them, apart from their names and the particularities of their special seasons with their particular growing conditions. Sal's, Keddie, Natalina, Dark Portuguese, Spanish Unknown, Black Greek ...

      • #9
        marseilles black was really good for me this year, my Sal's EL is diseased so I am dumping it, haven't tried Takoma but Herman loves it. I'd go with the MBvs.
        Rafael
        Zone 10b, Miami, FL

        Comment


        • #10
          Steve,
          I haven't tasted Takoma Violet but the dozens of fig varieties that are grouped as Mount Etna Types have enough variability to warrant growing several different cultivars. Their varied ripening times will allow you to harvest figs from mid season till frost. I've been lucky enough to taste "Mount Etna Type" figs from mature trees and I'm currently growing several found unknowns that may be classified as that type, although the flavor profiles are similar, the flavors can rage in sweetness and complexity from mild to very, they are distinct.

          If I had to choose, flavor and productivity would be the deciding factors.
          Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

          Comment


          • Rewton
            Rewton commented
            Editing a comment
            Agree Pete - I just need more land!

        • #11
          This year the St Rita was similar in taste to my Mt Etnas but 2 years ago it was far better than any of them.
          Bob C. KC, MO Zone 6a. Wanted: Martineca Rimada, Galicia Negra, Fioroni Ruvo, De La Reina - Pons, Tauro, BFF, Sefrawi, Sbayi, Mavra Sika , Fillaciano Bianco, Corynth, Souadi, Acciano Purple, LSU Tiger, LSU Red, Cajun Gold, BB-10 any great tasting fig

          Comment


          • #12
            This would be a good place to repost the Mt Etnas cultivar list.
            Scott - Colorado Springs, CO - Zone 4/5 (Depending on the year) - Elevation 6266ft

            “Though the problems of the world are increasingly complex, the solutions remain embarrassingly simple.” – Bill Mollison

            Comment


            • Rewton
              Rewton commented
              Editing a comment
              Sure, the more information, the merrier.

          • #13
            Pictures of a few alleged Mount Etna Types with the original, Hardy Chicago The Unknown NolaDark has been the consistently best tasting of its type, very sweet with a mild raspberry like flavor more intense than a fully ripe Hardy Chicago even when still producing milky sap at the cut stem, with extremely intense flavors when fully ripe, the only issue with the NolaDark is that its a late ripening fig. IMO, all the pictured leaves are typical of the "mature" leaves for the specific cultivar. They all started ripening more main crop figs over the past 2 weeks.
            You may only view thumbnails in this gallery. This gallery has 8 photos.
            Pete R - Hudson Valley, NY - zone 5b

            Comment


            • Rewton
              Rewton commented
              Editing a comment
              The UNK NolaDark looks/sounds like a good one. It is interesting that it's ripening time is delayed relatively to other Mt. Etna types. Do you think that this will be a consistent difference? My three Mt. Etna types start ripening main crop within a few days of each other.

            • AscPete
              AscPete commented
              Editing a comment
              Yes, its a very good cultivar.
              Unknown NolaDark was found in NYC zone 7 growing near the BryantDark mother tree, which ripens in July and August, breba and main crop respectively, it consistently started ripening main crop figs in September. The pictured figs are all from container grown trees.

          • #14
            The Etna type figs are really rewarding me for my efforts this year. We have been enjoying them daily; I'll echo others here and say it just depends on the day as to who the winner is. These all taste so close..Hardy Chicago, Sal's El, Malta Black, MBVS, and Navid's UDG. At the moment, I don't want to get rid of any of them.
            Overall I think that MBVS has been the winner of the group for rich flavor here. My HC is a couple years older than the rest and thus waaaay more productive, age also made the figs a little bigger. Sal's El is in it's 2nd year(first year producing) and very vigorous with noteworthy production, flavor isn't lacking here for a youngster. UDG isn't having a good year, growth is down considerably from last year and production isn't outstanding either. The UDG is ripening much earlier than last year though, so that's an improvement..we will see how it does next year; maybe I'll slip the rootball out this winter and see if it needs an up or repot. Malta Black, poor girl had a tough winter and somehow this one plant got drier than the rest and the bark started to shrivel, I thought I lost her but she bounced back and eventually broke bud about a month late. So not a good deal of growth or production for MB this year, but I have still gotten a few figs that made me say "Dang!". Here's to next year MB. Looking at Attillio Purple's leaves, I think it may be in this catagory too, but that is just a guess based off leaf shape which is similar.
            One difference I have noticed though is in figs that hang on the tree longer and start to shrink and shrivel considerably. I find that with most of these figs I am not much of a fan when this happens. To me the flavor of these partially dried fig is more like, well...a dried fig(duh!), which I feel has a bit of a tobacco taste. It reminds me of getting a hold of a bag of Beech Nut chewing tobacco as kid..eesh. The point I'm trying to get to though is..so far this year HC is the only one which hasn't taken on that flavor when partially dried or over ripe; it's just been more intensely flavored.
            I think I like these figs best when soft all the way up to the hard green stem, but not shriveled. Maybe I'll start eating the shrivelly ones with some soft cheese and crackers or crusty bread. Woohoo! I think I have officially crossed the threshold of having some extra figs to experiment with.
            Last edited by cis4elk; 09-20-2015, 11:55 PM.
            Calvin, Wish list is to finish working on the new house, someday.
            Bored? Grab a rake, paint roller, or a cordless drill and come over!

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            • AscPete
              AscPete commented
              Editing a comment

              I have to agree with you. I also prefer ripe figs that are 'plump', with the skin just slightly wrinkled, and a 80% - 90% translucent interior (flesh and pulp). The wrinkly skin is often an indicator of the ripeness of the flesh of the fig, when it starts to ripen and become translucent.

          • #15
            There's a bigger difference here between my in-ground HC vs all the other potted Mt Etnas than among the potted Mt Etnas, including the potted HC. The in ground HC started ripening figs much later than usual. Night time temps had been in the low 50s before its first fig ripened but they still taste much better than all of the potted ones.
            Bob C. KC, MO Zone 6a. Wanted: Martineca Rimada, Galicia Negra, Fioroni Ruvo, De La Reina - Pons, Tauro, BFF, Sefrawi, Sbayi, Mavra Sika , Fillaciano Bianco, Corynth, Souadi, Acciano Purple, LSU Tiger, LSU Red, Cajun Gold, BB-10 any great tasting fig

            Comment


            • mountainfigs
              mountainfigs commented
              Editing a comment
              Agreed, totally. The ultimate flavor and surely nutrition comes from the in-ground figs here, including those with roots stretching from pots into ground.

              The potted ones are more productive, though, than those totally in ground, and also very flavorful, and not infrequently so flavorful that not having roots in ground doesn't seem to matter.

          • #16
            I've been looking up information on the figs I recently bought, and came across this thread. I have a tiny rooted cutting 'Scotts Black', which is called a Mt Etna type. What exactly is a Mt Etna type? Is it defined by the growing conditions? That is, higher altitudes, cooler weather, can stand freeze, less/more rainfall, blooming timeframe, what unique traits do Mt Etna types have that other fig types don't?

            The Scotts Black is supposed to be a bordeaux berry type, from LSU, and from different blogs and articles online, must be picked at precisely the right ripeness or it's terrible (the quote, "uniquely super awful") a trait it shares with another LSU fig, LSU Purple (Scotts Black is a LSU fig). Scotts Blck ripens late August to Sept with only 1 crop, and has a closed eye. I haven't found any other information on it, it appears to be uncommon (maybe because it tastes awful or amazing like LSU Purple?).

            Would like more info if anyone can help with this. Thanks!


            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


            • Rewton
              Rewton commented
              Editing a comment
              Although the definition of a Mt. Etna type is kind of blurry, I would not consider LSU Scott's Black to be a Mt. Etna type as it derived from a breeding program at LSU. As far as I know, a fig should only be called a Mt. Etna type if it can trace its lineage back to the close-knit family of figs that grow on Mt. Etna.

            • AscPete
              AscPete commented
              Editing a comment
              Mount Etna types are figs that are similar to Hardy Chicago aka Bensonhurst Purple which are a dark skinned Italian fig allegedly traced back to Mt Etna vicinity.

              The Flavor profile is Dark Berry Group which is berry flavored dark skinned figs.

              Scotts Black is a Celeste Hybrid bred at LSU. it has a Flavor Profile that is in The Dark Berry Group, but a few collectors have compared it to Violette de Bordeaux which is in the Bordeaux Flavor Group.

          • #17
            I don't think it's a Celeste hybrid... because based on the little bit I could find on it, 1. it only has one crop... NO breba crop at all (doesn't both Celeste and Violette have 2 crops?). 2. That one crop ripens in September, it's a late season fig, not a mid season. Also, it won't split and isn't affected by rain. I don't think 2 mid season figs would breed a late season fig??

            I can't find much of anything on this fig info wise, particularly horticultural info, just sales sites and some random forum chatting. The pix I've seen are so dark its blue/black with a bright red middle, and the leaves are 5 fingered, a bit like the pix of the Violette, but shiny, not the furry of the Celeste (I don't have a violette to know the leaf texture). Especially with this fig, it's hard to know what to believe. I saw one forum where someone said it was an early with an open eye and small figs. Other forums and descriptions (majority) say it's one of the latest to fruit, 1 crop, closed eye, large figs.

            Figs are so confusing...
            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


            • #18
              Scott's Black, aka LSU Black, etc, is an LSU fig. This is not controversial. If I recall correctly all LSU figs have Celeste parentage. (And I'm not aware that any have Bordeaux parentage.) See here:
              Received some information today From L S U. If you have seen the new fig being advertised as Fantasia it is A Scott's Black . It seems that Dr, Johnson had made a few deals with these nursery's And they have made their own Trade Marks on them for Royalty Fees back to L S U. The legal Staff at L S U is looking into These contracts But get ready for more new name figs of L S U. S o Scott's Black will be Release this year And L S U Hollier will be Next to be release By L S U. And for those who wanted to know if The Jack lily was a L S U fig in the Breeding program the answer is yes !!!! They will be working on bringing the Jack Lily Back This year !!
              Tony WV 6b
              https://mountainfigs.net/

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