What is a Fig?

Ficus carica L.

Fig is a sweet, soft and hollow pear shaped multiple fruit, botanically called a syconium, with many tiny seed-like fruits, eaten fresh when in season, but mostly marketed dry. It belongs to the Mulberry Family (Moraceae), together with Bread Fruit, Jack Fruit and African Bread fruit. Fig is also known as common fig.

Fig is native to Middle East and Western Asia. It has been cultivated for centuries in the warm, semi-arid climates, but is also widely grown in the temperate world for it’s fruits or as an ornamental.

The largest producers are Turkey, Egypt, Morocco, Algeria, Iran, Syria and USA. (as of 2017). Figs are pollinated by a special kind of wasp because their flowers are enclosed in the fleshy fruit (syconium).

Fresh Figs 

Fresh figs have unique taste and texture but they have the shortest shelf life compared to any fruit on the market. Once harvested, they can only last about one week. As a result about 90% of the worlds production is marketed dried. (The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition).

Like dates, figs are sweet with a soft texture. The fruit correctly referred to as syconium,  is pear shaped with a pliable green to black to purple skin that encloses a sweet, fleshy interior filled with edible little fruits called achenes (these are commonly referred to as seeds). Each achene bears a seed at the base.

Fig Varieties

In the USA nearly all domestic figs are produced in California. Several varieties are popular and include:

  1. Black Mission: has a thin, black or purple skin and purple flesh. Ripe mission figs will be nearly black. Their skins are edible.
  2. Kadota: has a greenish yellow skin and purplish flesh.
  3. CalimyrnaThis is the most popular dried cultivar. It was developed from the Turkish variety, Smyrna, which is commonly imported dried. They are large and greenish-yellow, with a thick skin. Unlike Black Mission, Calimyrna figs are usually peeled.
  4. Brown Turkey: has a purplish skin and red flesh. It’s marketed fresh as well as dried.
  5. Adriatic: has a light green skin and plain pink flesh. It’s the one used in making Fig Bars and Fig Paste.

Source: (The Wellness Encyclopedia of Food and Nutrition).

Below is a Photo of Calimyrna Fig

Calimyrna Fig myfavouritepastime.com
Calimyrna Fig myfavouritepastime.com

Nutritional Facts of Dried Figs

By weight figs provide 11% more calcium than skim milk but have 629% more calories and about 605% of the calories is derived from natural sugar.

Dried figs are very nutritious and have impressive amount of dietary fibre, about 9g per 100g serving. Figs are also a good source of potassium, iron and calcium.

100g (3.5oz) dried fig: provides 249 calories and the following:

  • Fat: 1g
  • Cholesterol: 0g
  • Sodium: 11mg
  • Protein: 3.3g
  • Carbohydrate: 63.87g ( sugar 47.92g, dietary fibre 9.8g).

100g (3.5oz) dried fig: provides the following RDA for the following vitamins and minerals:

  • Vitamin K- (15%);
  • Manganese (24%);
  • Potassium (14%);
  • Magnesium (19%)
  •  Iron (15%).

Nutritional Facts of Fresh Figs

Once dried, the sugars in the fig become more concentrated so 100g fresh fig has 74 Calories and 100g dried fig has 249 Calories.

100g (3.5oz) fresh fig: provides 74 calories and the following:

  • Fat: 0.3g
  • Cholesterol: 0g
  • Sodium: 1mg
  • Protein: 0.75g
  • Carbohydrate: 19.18g ( sugar 16.26g, dietary fibre 2.9g).

Nutrition information source: WIKI.

Culinary Use of Fig

Figs can be eaten fresh or dried.Fresh or dried figs can be used in salads, cakes, pizzas, smoothies, puddings and scones. They can also be used in meat dishes.

Fig is also used in jam making and in making products like Fig newton or Fig roll-biscuit with fig-filling.

Availability of Figs 

Fresh figs varieties are available at different times from June to September. Dried figs are available all year round.

How to Buy  and Store Figs.

myfavouritepastime.com Last Updated: August 16, 2018

Author: Liz

I love everything food: eating, cooking, baking and travelling. I also love photography and nature.

3 thoughts

  1. Hi Liz –

    Your article about figs is very timely.

    We are in the hospital for Gary to have a blood transfusion, and the nurse just told us to have him eat a fig, a date, and a spoon of raisins every day!

    Virtual hugs,

    Judie Sent from my iPhone


    1. Omg Judie sorry to hear Gary had a blood transfusion. I hope he is feeling better now. My warm regards to him. I have a lot of dried figs, dates and raisins. I love snacking on them in the afternoons. I hope he feels much better soon. Virtual Hugs!!!

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