It's fresh fig season here in California! Beginning mid-May and stretching through mid-December, six primary varieties of figs will be common this season, including the Black Mission, Calimyrna, Kadota, Brown Turkey, Sierra, and the Tiger. Read on to discover more about these California fig varietals!
Before enjoying, you should wash all figs and cut each of the stems off. Figs will not ripen further once picked, so try to pick the ripest ones. Ripe figs should be eaten soon after harvested, since they are very perishable. Stored in the refrigerator, fresh figs can be kept for up to 5-7 days. Stored in an airtight container, dried figs can be kept at room temperature for a month, or in the refrigerator for up to a year.
The Black Mission Fig
The Black Mission fig, one of the most popular varietals, has a purple and black skin with a honey flavor, similar to a Syrah.
Fig Fact: Black Mission Figs were first introduced into the United States back in 1768, when Franciscan missionaries planted them in San Diego.
Harvest: These figs are typically harvested May through November. Look out for figs with cracked skin; these are usually the ripest ones.
Use: Black Mission figs can be enjoyed both fresh or dried. Try them roasted with honey and cinnamon, or tossed fresh into a salad.
The Calimyrna fig has a pale yellow skin and a nutty flavor, similar to a Chardonnay.
Fig Fact: The Calimyrna fig was originally grown in Turkey and called the Smyrna fig, named after the famous ancient Turkish city. However, when the crop made its way to California, growers here changed the name to the Calimyrna fig.
Harvest: These figs are typically available July through September. Look out for figs that have a light green to yellow skin, and are soft to the touch.
Use: Calimyrna figs are used both fresh and dried. Dried Calimyrna figs taste great in savory and sweet dishes. Try stuffing Calimyrna figs with goat cheese as an appetizer, or chop and bake into scones for breakfast.
The Kadota fig is thick-skinned with a creamy amber color and a light flavor, similar to Sauvignon Blanc.
Fig Fact: Kadota figs have an "eye", which is not connected to the tree but helps the fig to develop by communicating with the fig's environment.
Harvest: These figs can be found mid-June through October. Choose figs that are yellow-green in color, and slightly on the firmer side.
Use: Kadota figs are typically dried or canned. They carmelize well, and since they are not as sweet as other figs, they are perfect to use in baking. Try baking them into muffins, stirring into pancake batters, or baking on top of pizzas.
The Brown Turkey fig has a light purple to black colored skin, and has a flavor similar to a Pinot Noir.
Fig Fact: The origin of the name is derived from both the fig's color and its country of origin.
Harvest: These figs are available mid-May through December. Young Brown Turkey figs are green, however once ripe they will be a purple-brown color.
Use: Brown Turkey figs are typically exclusively enjoyed fresh. Try them added to pasta or tossed in a salad.
The Sierra fig has a light yellow-green skin, with a sweet and mild flavor similar to a Riesling.
Fig Fact: The Sierra fig was first introduced in 2005 by breeders from the University of California, who created the fig varietal to be used by growers in California's Central Valley.
Harvest: These figs are typically available June through November. When ripe, they will be soft to the touch and have a creamy interior.
Use: Sierra figs can be enjoyed both fresh or dried. Try them wrapped in prosciutto or chopped into salsas.
The Tiger fig has a unique exterior, with yellow and green stripes, and a bold citrus flavored interior, similar to a Sparkling Rosé.
Fig Fact: The Tiger fig, named for it's appearance similar to tiger stripes, is one of the most flavorful fig varietals.
Harvest: These figs are available mid-July through November.
Use: The Tiger fig has strong fruity, raspberry, and citrus flavors, and is best enjoyed fresh rather than dried. Try creating jams or pies with these figs, or use them in salads or even added to your morning bowl of cereal.