A trained sensory panel evaluated the 6 fig cultivars currently sold in the California dried fig market. The main flavor and aroma attributes determined by the sensory panel were “caramel,” “honey,” “raisin,” and “fig,” with additional aroma attributes: “common date,” “dried plum,” and “molasses.” Sensory differences were observed between dried fig cultivars. All figs were processed by 2 commercial handlers. Processing included potassium sorbate as a preservative and SO2 application as an antibrowning agent for white cultivars. As a consequence of SO2 use during processing, high sulfite residues affected the sensory profiles of the white dried fig cultivars. Significant differences between dried fig cultivars and sources demonstrate perceived differences between processing and storage methods. The panel-determined sensory lexicon can help with California fig marketing.
A set of dried fig sensory descriptors was established to provide more information for processors, marketers, and consumers in the dried fig market. Additionally, our results demonstrate at which levels sulfite residues can be perceived in dried figs.