Black Mission Figs
Inventory, 3 lbs : 0
Black Mission figs are a medium to large varietal, averaging 2 to 5 centimeters in diameter and 4 to 8 centimeters in length, and have a pyriform shape with a broad, flattened base and a short, thick neck. The fig's skin is thin, taut, and smooth, with a tough texture and prominent, raised ribbing. When the variety ripens, the feel of the fruit will give slightly under pressure. The skin also has a dark purple, almost black coloring, with lighter violet tones and green shades toward the neck. A distinct feature of the variety is its powdery bloom coating and scattered white lenticels. Underneath the surface, the dark red-pink flesh is dense, aqueous, glossy, soft, and tender with a creamy, jammy, chewy, and crunchy consistency. The flesh is also filled with thin and beige, tiny edible seeds. Black Mission figs can be consumed raw when ripe and may begin to crack open at maturity, a sign that the fig is ready to be eaten. The variety has a rich, sweet, fruity, and nutty flavor with melon, strawberry, caramel, subtly earthy and berry-like taste.
Black Mission figs are harvested in two crops, the first in spring and the second in late summer through early winter. Dried figs are available year-round.
Black Mission figs, botanically classified as Ficus carica, are a well-known variety belonging to the Moraceae family. The large black figs grow on deciduous trees reaching 3 to 6 meters in height and have origins as a European variety popularized in the United States as a commercial cultivar. Black Mission figs are also known as Mission figs and Franciscan figs in retail markets and are typically sold in their fresh and dried states. Growers favor Black Mission figs for the tree’s productive, easy-to-grow, and self-pollinating nature, and the variety is a common fig sold through nurseries for home gardens and commercial orchards. Black Mission figs produce two crops per year, a main crop and a breba crop. Main crops produce the largest fruits in the late summer or fall, while Breba crops are a second crop in the spring that appear on branches that did not produce figs from the previous main crop season. In the modern day, Black Mission figs are a common fig variety and are often regarded by fig enthusiasts as one of the top black fig varieties in terms of size, texture, ease of growth, and flavor. Black Mission figs are highly perishable and are a seasonal delicacy utilized by chefs and home consumers in fresh and cooked culinary preparations.
Black Mission figs are a source of vitamin C to boost the immune system, fiber to regulate the digestive tract, vitamin A to maintain healthy organ functioning, copper to develop connective tissues, and potassium to balance fluid levels within the body. The variety also provides calcium to build strong bones and teeth, magnesium to control nerve functioning, iron to develop the protein hemoglobin for oxygen transport through the bloodstream, and other nutrients, including vitamin K, B vitamins, and phosphorous.
Black Mission figs have a fruity, honeyed, and sugary taste suited for fresh, dried, and cooked preparations. The variety, including the skin, is traditionally consumed out of hand and is savored for its soft and creamy texture. Black Mission figs can be stuffed with nuts, cheeses, or salty meats as an appetizer, served on charcuterie boards, or sliced into salads. The fruits can also be dipped whole into chocolate as a dessert, chopped and mixed into yogurt, drizzled in honey and eaten, incorporated into quinoa and other grain bowls, or sliced into grilled cheeses. When Black Mission figs are combined with savory ingredients, such as salt, cocoa, and spices, they can produce a “meaty” flavor with a smoky, almost steak-like aroma and taste. Black Mission figs can also be simmered into jams or baked into cakes, muffins, and cookies. Try chopping the figs with thyme and folding it into an olive oil-based cake batter or top puff pastry dough with crumbled cheese, figs, and prosciutto as a tart. The figs can also be sauteed with beets, drizzled in honey and balsamic vinegar, and served as a side dish to meat mains. Beyond fresh and cooked preparations, Black Mission figs can be dried for extended use, developing dark, wrinkled skin and a jammy, chewy interior. Dried figs are sweeter than fresh figs, as the sugar is concentrated in the flesh, and can be added to salads, trail mix, desserts, and rice. Black Mission figs pair well with meats such as pork, beef, duck, quail, and rabbit, cinnamon, caramel, honey, nuts including pine, pistachios, and almonds, and cheeses such as blue, goat, and gorgonzola. Whole, unwashed Black Mission figs will keep for 2 to 3 days when stored at room temperature or for 5 to 7 days in the refrigerator's crisper drawer. Some consumers recommend bringing an empty egg carton to the market when purchasing fresh figs. The figs can be individually placed in each spot within the container, preventing the fruits from being squished or bruised. Black Mission figs can also be frozen for extended use, lasting up to six months.
Black Mission figs acquired their name from their history of cultivation among the Spanish missions in California. The variety was first established in modern-day California in 1768 when it was planted at the Mission San Diego de Alcala. Black Mission figs were chosen for cultivation as they were easy to grow, thrived in a Mediterranean-like climate, and produced large crops of fleshy, sweet, and tender fruits. The fig variety was also a favorite of the Franciscan friars, and when a new Mission was established along California’s coastline, Black Mission figs were also transported for planting in the garden. In the late 19th century, Black Mission figs were one of the only varieties grown in California, and the cultivar became the top commercial fig for centuries. It is said the figs were named after the California Missions and the fruit’s dark purple-black coloring.
Black Mission figs are believed to be native to Spain and are descendants of figs that have been present since ancient times. Experts hypothesize that the variety is the same as Franciscana, a common fig in Spain, and was carried from Spain to Mexico through Spanish missionaries. Black Mission figs were planted in Mexico around 1520, and the variety was planted north along the coastline of California as Catholic Missions were constructed along the historic Missions Trail in the late 18th century. The figs were notably present in the gardens of the Mission San Diego, and by the late 19th century, Black Mission figs had been found as far north as Fresno in the San Joaquin Valley. Today, Black Mission figs are a popular variety throughout the United States and have expanded in cultivation to home gardens and commercial orchards. The variety is primarily grown in California, but it is also found in smaller quantities across the country and worldwide. When in season, Black Mission figs are sold through grocers, distributors, and farmer’s markets.
Recipes that include Black Mission Figs. One is easiest, three is harder.