The common fig is a flowering plant from the mulberry family. Native to western Asia and the Mediterranean, the edible fig is now widely grown throughout the world for both its fruit and its ornamental appeal. In fact, it is believed that this desirable plant is one of the first to have been cultivated by humans, with archaeological evidence of this dating back to 9400-9200 BC.
While there are hundreds of different varieties of fig plant, the tear-shaped, bulbous fruit is grouped into four main colours: white, green, red and purple/black. Edible in its entirety, the fig has a thin skin that encloses hundreds of seeds (miniature fruits themselves) held in a succulent, softly fibrous red or purple flesh. The resulting flavour profile, though dependent on the variety, is reminiscent of jammy, brown sugar with hints of berry and honey.
The fig’s inherent sweetness means they lend themselves well to desserts but they are also commonly used to cut through the sharper savoury flavours of some cheeses, meat and other foods. It is this versatility that is no doubt contributing to the resurgence of fig as an ingredient for cooking and baking dishes, as well as a standalone fresh fruit snack.
However, freshly-picked figs are not only tasty; they also offer a plethora of healthy features too. This soft fruit has been found to be rich in fibre and a great source of essential minerals like manganese, calcium, magnesium, copper, potassium, and vitamins A and K. What’s more, dry figs are known to help reduce cholesterol levels due to their omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids that decrease natural cholesterol synthesis.
It is this incredible list of health-inducing characteristics that makes fig one to watch; particularly as consumers continue to show interest in food and drinks that offer improved health and wellbeing.
Julie Barnes, Citrus, Fruit and Vegetable Category Manager for Treatt, comments:
“At Treatt, we keep abreast of market trends to see what ingredients will become the next showstopper. While fig is yet to become a standalone beverage flavour, we are seeing some cross over into beverages now that figs have become more popular within cooking. We know that consumers are becoming more open to new flavours or to traditional, familiar flavours used in a new way, so we expect fig will find its place within beverages. It is important for us to keep one step ahead of any trend, so that we can respond to our clients’ needs, which is why we already have a Fig Treattarome as part of our water-soluble range of ingredient offerings. It is ready to be blended directly into any beverage application to inject a light fig flavour or provide a base upon which to build a stronger fig profile.”