What’s Fig?

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Fig wine is a fermented drink made from fresh or dried figs, but it is not considered wine due to the differences in structure and process. Making fig wine requires additives to induce fermentation, and large quantities of figs are needed. It can be difficult to get a pronounced fig flavor, and most pure fig wines are aged for over a year. Some home cooks make a version by steeping sliced figs in white wine.

Fig wine is a fermented fruit drink made mainly from the juice of fresh figs. Some fig wines can also be made from reconstituted dried figs, although the process is often much more onerous. Either way, the wine made from figs, while alcoholic, isn’t wine at all. More often than not, the term “wine” describes a specific type of grape fermentation process. Using figs produces similar results in taste and appearance. The main differences are in structure and process.

Grapes are the crux of winemaking operations due to their naturally high acid content and their ability to ferment easily. The same is not usually true for figs. A fig is a much meatier fruit than a grape and often contains much lower concentrations of sugar and naturally occurring acid. Making fig wine usually requires a lot of additives to induce fermentation.

Fermentation occurs when the yeasts introduced interact with the sugars present in the fruit juice. This reaction converts the juice into ethyl alcohol while retaining all the nascent flavors, colors and bitterness of the juice. Conversion is slow and usually takes place in a closed container or chamber. One of the hardest parts of making fig wine is extracting enough juice from the fruits to induce fermentation, then monitoring sugar levels to ensure the yeast is adequately nourished.

Figs are generally not very juicy fruits. For this reason, winemakers often let figs ripen for as long as possible, often using fruit that is about to go bad to ensure maximum juice content. Preparing figs for juicing often involves pulverizing them, then straining out any solids, including the skin and seeds. Large quantities of figs are usually needed for even a modest bottle of fig wine.

Cooks and fruit winemakers often combine figs with dates, currants, and other fruits to create a blended wine with a more robust flavor. It can be difficult to get a pronounced fig flavor out of most varieties of fig juice, at least immediately. Most pure fig wines are aged for over a year to ensure fermentation. The process is usually quicker the more sugar the juice contains, but too much sugar can overwhelm the delicate flavor of most figs.

Fig wine is sometimes commercially available, often from local shops or large-scale fig farms. Most of the time, however, the wine is made in-house. There simply isn’t enough demand in most places to sustain regular fig wine production, and the time taken is often not worth the cost.

Some home cooks make a sort of fig wine that captures the taste of the fig without the hassle of extracting and fermenting the juice. In this version, cooks buy a full-bodied white wine, then steep sliced ​​figs over a period of time. This type of drink is more labeled as wine, as it is simply a flavored grape base.

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