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White figs grow on ficus trees that can reach up to 6 meters tall. They have thin tender skins and can range from beige or yellow to pale green. Some White fig varieties may have streaks of green running vertically down the fruit. The interior flesh is soft and chewy, laden with tiny edible seeds that pop and crunch. Younger fruits are leaner in flavor, lower in sugar content and the flesh is generally more cottony in texture with a less jellied seed cavity. The flesh tastes like candied strawberries and raspberries.
Various varieties of White figs are available in the summer and fall.
White figs are scientifically known as Ficus carica, and are related to the mulberry. Botanically each White fig is an inverted flower, not a single fruit, but nearly fifteen hundred tiny fruits. There are almost two hundred cultivars of figs, thus they grow in a wide range of shapes, colors and textures. White figs are not entirely white, but are paler in color and more floral in flavor. Some named varieties of White figs are Adriatic, Excel and Kadota.
White figs are a good source of dietary fiber, which is beneficial for a healthy digestive system. All figs are high in potassium, calcium, iron and vitamins A, B6, and C. Drying figs will increase the protein and fiber content of the fruit.
White figs can be eaten fresh, or prepared in a number of applications. White figs are commonly dried or made into jams and jellies. Slice the figs into thin pieces and use as a garnish or on a cheese platter. Figs pair well with soft cheeses, salted meats, wine and balsamic vinegar. White figs are used to flavor desserts, like tarts and cakes. Figs can be used in many of the same applications as apples. Store ripe White figs in the refrigerator, as they are highly perishable. Take into account the delicate nature of White figs when storing, they crush easily.
Figs have been revered for centuries, given as gifts or dried and used to adorn revelers during festivals and ceremonies. The unique fruits date back to ancient Greece, where White figs were worn by women and black figs were worn by men for purification rituals. During the first years of the Olympic games, figs were given as tokens to the winners. The word "sycophant" can trace its origins to figs in Greece, as the root 'syko' means fig, and 'phan' to show. The word was used to describe a person who informs on someone for illegally selling figs, in an effort to win accolades.
Figs are native to the region of Western Asia that is now Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran. Many common white cultivars today have their origin in the fertile valleys of Southern California. Due to the fragile nature of White figs, they do not transport well and are more likely to be found locally through small farms and farmer's markets.
Recipes that include White Figs. One is easiest, three is harder.