Figs: Varieties, Nutrition Facts, Benefits, Picking & Storage

by Ella

In the world of fruits, few are as captivating and versatile as the fig. With its rich history, unique appearance, and sweet flavor, the fig has captured the hearts and taste buds of cultures spanning centuries. From ancient civilizations to modern culinary delights, the fig’s journey has been one of intrigue and appreciation. In this comprehensive article, we delve into the world of figs, exploring their origins, characteristics, nutritional value, health benefits, and culinary applications.

What is a fig?

A fig is a unique and luscious fruit, botanically classified as a “syconium,” which is an inverted flower structure. It originates from the Ficus carica tree, a member of the Moraceae family. Figs are known for their bulbous shape, tender skin, and sweet, honey-like flavor. They come in various varieties, each distinguished by size, color, and taste. This ancient fruit has a rich history, revered in cultures around the world for its culinary versatility and potential health benefits. Whether enjoyed fresh, dried, or in various culinary creations, the fig remains a captivating and cherished addition to the world of fruits.


11 Fig Varieties

Figs come in a diverse array of varieties, each with its distinct characteristics in terms of flavor, texture, color, and size. From the sweet and succulent to the subtly nutty, fig enthusiasts can savor a rich spectrum of flavors. Here are some notable fig varieties:


1. Black Mission: Perhaps the most iconic, the Black Mission fig boasts a dark purple to black skin and a vibrant, ruby-hued interior. Its flavor is rich and sweet, often described as having notes of honey and berries.


2. Brown Turkey: Recognizable by its brownish-purple skin and pink flesh, the Brown Turkey fig is sweet and mild in flavor. It is commonly enjoyed fresh or dried and is a versatile choice for culinary applications.


3. Calimyrna: With its pale greenish-yellow skin and amber-colored flesh, the Calimyrna fig has a subtly nutty and slightly nutmeg-like flavor. It is often enjoyed dried and pairs well with cheeses and nuts.

4. Kadota: The Kadota fig, also known as the “white fig,” features light green skin and a pale interior. Its flavor is delicate and mildly sweet, making it a popular choice for eating fresh or preserved.

5. Adriatic: Also referred to as the “White Kadota,” the Adriatic fig has light green or yellow skin and a tender, pale pink interior. Its flavor is honey-sweet and slightly floral.

6. Panache (Tiger Stripe): This unique fig variety stands out with its striking green and yellow-striped skin. Its sweet flavor is accompanied by a subtle tartness, making it a delightful choice for snacking.

7. King: The King fig is characterized by its large size, deep purple skin, and sweet, jam-like interior. It is often used for making jams, preserves, and desserts.

8. Atreano: With its vibrant green skin and rosy pink interior, the Atreano fig offers a balanced sweetness and refreshing taste. It is popular for fresh consumption.

9. Violette de Bordeaux: This petite fig variety showcases deep purple to black skin and a rich, berry-like flavor. Its small size and intense sweetness make it a favorite for fresh eating.

10. Lattarula: Also known as the “Honey fig,” Lattarula figs have pale green to yellow skin and a sweet, honey-like flavor. They are prized for their early ripening and succulent texture.

11. Osborn Prolific: This variety is known for its prolific fruiting and is often found in home gardens. Its greenish-yellow skin and sweet, juicy flesh make it a delightful choice for fresh consumption.

The Fig’s Nutrition Facts

1. Dietary Fiber: Figs are rich in dietary fiber, a crucial component for digestive health and regularity. A 100-gram serving of fresh figs provides approximately 2.9 grams of fiber. Dietary fiber promotes smooth digestion, helps prevent constipation, and supports a healthy gut microbiome.

2. Vitamins:

Vitamin B6: Figs contain vitamin B6, which is involved in numerous bodily functions, including metabolism, nervous system health, and immune support.

Vitamin K: This vitamin is essential for blood clotting and bone health. Figs contribute a modest amount of vitamin K to the diet.

3. Minerals:

Potassium: Figs are a notable source of potassium, with a 100-gram serving containing around 232 milligrams. Potassium plays a crucial role in maintaining fluid balance, muscle contractions, and heart health.

Calcium: Figs contribute to your calcium intake, which is essential for maintaining strong bones and teeth, as well as supporting muscle and nerve function.

Magnesium: This mineral is involved in energy production, muscle function, and maintaining a healthy immune system. Figs provide a small amount of magnesium.

4. Antioxidants: Figs are packed with antioxidants, including polyphenols and flavonoids, which help protect cells from oxidative stress and reduce the risk of chronic diseases. Antioxidants play a role in supporting overall health and may have anti-inflammatory effects.

5. Natural Sugars: Figs contain natural sugars like fructose, glucose, and sucrose, which contribute to their sweet flavor. While they provide an energy boost, the presence of dietary fiber helps moderate the impact on blood sugar levels.

6. Phytonutrients: Figs contain various phytonutrients, such as quercetin and chlorogenic acid, which have been associated with potential health benefits, including anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

7. Digestive Enzymes: Figs contain enzymes like ficin and lipase, which aid in digestion by breaking down proteins and fats, respectively.

12 Health Benefits of Figs

1. Digestive Health: Figs are a excellent source of dietary fiber, which plays a crucial role in promoting healthy digestion. The soluble fiber in figs helps regulate bowel movements, prevent constipation, and support a well-functioning gastrointestinal system.

See Also: Top 10 High-Fiber Foods

2. Weight Management: The fiber content in figs can help create a feeling of fullness, aiding in appetite control and weight management. Figs’ natural sweetness can also satisfy cravings for sugary snacks, potentially reducing calorie intake.

See Also: Top 10 Most Weight-Loss Friendly Foods on the Planet

3. Heart Health: Figs’ potassium content contributes to heart health by helping to regulate blood pressure levels. Potassium counteracts the effects of sodium and supports proper fluid balance, which is essential for maintaining a healthy cardiovascular system.

See Also: Heart-Healthy Foods: A Comprehensive Guide

4. Bone Health: Figs contain calcium and magnesium, two minerals that are vital for maintaining strong bones and preventing bone-related disorders like osteoporosis. These minerals work together to support bone density and structure.

5. Blood Sugar Control: The fiber and natural sugars in figs contribute to stabilized blood sugar levels. The presence of dietary fiber slows down the absorption of sugars, preventing rapid spikes and crashes in blood glucose.

6. Antioxidant Power: Figs are rich in antioxidants, including polyphenols and flavonoids, which help neutralize harmful free radicals in the body. Antioxidants play a role in reducing oxidative stress and lowering the risk of chronic diseases.

7. Anti-Inflammatory Effects: Some compounds in figs, such as quercetin and catechins, have anti-inflammatory properties. These properties may contribute to reducing inflammation and lowering the risk of inflammatory conditions.

See Also: Top 10 Worst Foods for Inflammation

8. Gut Health: Figs contain enzymes like ficin, which aid in digestion and promote a healthy gut microbiome. A balanced gut microbiome is associated with improved digestion, immune function, and overall well-being.

9. Skin Health: Figs’ antioxidant content, including vitamin C, may contribute to healthier and more radiant skin by combating oxidative damage and supporting collagen production.

See Also: Radiant Skin: A Comprehensive Guide to Diet & Nutrition

10. Cancer Prevention: Certain compounds in figs, such as benzaldehyde and coumarin derivatives, have shown potential anti-cancer properties in preliminary research. However, more studies are needed to fully understand their effects.

See Also: 13 Types of Food to Prevent Cancer

11. Eye Health: Figs contain vitamin A, which is essential for maintaining good vision and eye health. Vitamin A contributes to the health of the retina and may help prevent age-related macular degeneration.

12. Athletic Performance: The natural sugars and potassium in figs can be beneficial for athletes, providing quick energy and aiding in muscle function and recovery.

How should I store fresh figs?

Storing fresh figs properly is essential to preserve their flavor, texture, and freshness. Figs are delicate fruits that can spoil relatively quickly, so following the right storage guidelines will help you enjoy them at their best. Here’s how to store fresh figs to extend their shelf life:

1. Choose Ripe Figs: When selecting figs, choose ones that are ripe but not overly soft or mushy. Ripe figs should have a slightly soft texture and give a little when gently pressed. They should also have a vibrant color and a sweet aroma.

2. Store in the Refrigerator: Once you’ve brought fresh figs home, it’s best to store them in the refrigerator. Place the figs in a single layer on a plate or shallow container lined with paper towels to absorb excess moisture.

3. Ventilated Container: If you have a plastic container with ventilation holes or small gaps, it can help maintain proper airflow around the figs. This can prevent excess moisture buildup and reduce the risk of mold.

4. Avoid Crowding: Figs are delicate and can easily bruise when crowded together. Make sure there’s enough space between each fig to prevent them from pressing against each other.

5. Don’t Wash Until Ready to Use: It’s best not to wash fresh figs until you’re ready to eat or prepare them. Excess moisture can promote spoilage, so keep them unwashed until you’re ready to enjoy them.

6. Use within a Few Days: Fresh figs have a relatively short shelf life, and they are best consumed within a few days of purchase. Check the figs regularly for any signs of spoilage, such as mold or off odors.

7. Freezing: If you find that you have more fresh figs than you can consume within a few days, consider freezing them for longer-term storage. Wash, dry, and freeze figs in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer them to an airtight freezer-safe container or bag.

8. Dried Figs: If you have excess fresh figs and want to extend their shelf life, you can also dry them to make dried figs. Slice the figs and place them on a baking sheet in a single layer. Dry them in an oven or food dehydrator until they reach the desired texture.

See Also: How to Store Fruit to Keep Them Fresh: Expert Tips

How to pick ripe figs?

Selecting ripe figs is essential to ensure that you enjoy their sweet and luscious flavor at its peak. When choosing figs, it’s important to consider their color, texture, and overall appearance. Here are some tips to help you pick ripe figs:

1. Check the Color: Ripe figs should have a vibrant and uniform color. The specific color varies depending on the fig variety. For example, Black Mission figs should have a deep purple to black hue when ripe, while Calimyrna figs should be pale green to yellow. Look for figs that have a rich and consistent color.

2. Feel the Texture: Gently touch the figs to assess their texture. Ripe figs should be slightly soft to the touch, giving a little when pressed. Avoid figs that feel too firm, as they may need more time to ripen. However, figs that are extremely mushy or have wrinkles may be overripe.

3. Look for Slight Wrinkles: Some fig varieties develop slight wrinkles when fully ripe. These wrinkles should be minimal and not overly pronounced. Avoid figs with excessive wrinkling, as they may be overripe or have started to spoil.

4. Check the Stem: The stem of a fig can provide clues about its ripeness. A ripe fig should have a stem that is slightly curved, not too rigid. If the stem is too green and attached firmly, the fig might need more time to ripen.

5. Smell the Aroma: Give the figs a gentle sniff near the stem end. Ripe figs often emit a sweet and fragrant aroma, indicating their readiness for consumption. However, this method might not be as reliable as color and texture assessment.

6. Harvest from the Tree: If you have access to a fig tree, harvesting figs directly from the tree allows you to pick them at the peak of ripeness. Figs are ready to be picked when they easily detach from the tree with a gentle twist.

7. Taste Test: If you have the opportunity, a taste test is the ultimate way to determine ripeness. Ripe figs should have a delightful sweetness with a honey-like flavor. Be sure to consume any figs you taste-test to avoid waste.

FAQs About Figs

Q1. Are figs a fruit?

Yes, figs are indeed a type of fruit. They are unique in that they are technically an inverted flower structure known as a “syconium.”

Q2. What do figs taste like?

Figs have a naturally sweet and honey-like flavor with subtle variations depending on the variety. Some describe them as having notes of berries, while others may find hints of nuttiness.

Q3. How many calories are in a fig?

The caloric content of a fig can vary depending on its size and whether it’s fresh or dried. On average, a fresh medium-sized fig contains around 37-48 calories, while a dried fig can have around 47-50 calories.

Q4. Can you eat figs with the skin?

Yes, the skin of figs is edible and often consumed along with the flesh. However, some individuals may choose to peel figs before eating, especially if the skin is tough or if they prefer a smoother texture.

Q5. Can you eat figs raw?

Absolutely! Figs can be enjoyed fresh and raw. Simply wash them, remove the stem, and bite into the sweet and succulent flesh.

Q6. Are dried figs healthy?

Dried figs retain much of their nutritional value, including dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals. However, they are more calorie-dense and concentrated in natural sugars, so portion control is important.

Q7. Do figs have seeds?

Yes, figs contain small, edible seeds that are soft and unobtrusive. They are typically consumed along with the flesh of the fruit.

Q8. Can you eat figs if you have diabetes?

Figs can be included in a diabetes-friendly diet when consumed in moderation. Their natural sugars and dietary fiber content can impact blood sugar levels, so it’s important to monitor portion sizes and consider their effects on blood glucose.

See Also: 10 Best & 10 Worst Fruits For People With Diabetes

Q9. Can figs cause allergies?

While fig allergies are relatively rare, some individuals may experience allergic reactions to figs. If you have a known allergy to other fruits or pollen, it’s advisable to exercise caution and consult with a healthcare professional.

Q10. Are figs safe for pets?

Figs can be toxic to pets, particularly dogs. They contain compounds that can cause gastrointestinal upset and other adverse effects. It’s best to avoid feeding figs to pets.

Q11. What are some culinary uses for figs?

Figs can be enjoyed in a variety of culinary creations. They can be eaten fresh, sliced and added to salads, stuffed with cheese or nuts, used as a topping for yogurt or oatmeal, or incorporated into baked goods and desserts.


The fig, an enchanting and timeless fruit, continues to weave its legacy across cultures, cuisines, and generations. From its ancient origins to its modern applications, the fig’s allure remains unyielding. As we delve into its storied past and embrace its potential for nourishment and creativity, we celebrate the fig as both a culinary delight and a symbol of nature’s intricate beauty. In every succulent bite, the fig invites us to savor the harmony between history, health, and the pleasures of the palate.



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