Abstract: Twelve fig cultivars, including cultivars destined for the fresh and dried markets, were harvested from 6 locations and evaluated by a trained panel using descriptive sensory analysis. Instrumental measurements were taken at harvest and also during sensory analysis. Each fresh fig cultivar had a characteristic appearance and flavor sensory profile regardless of the source. The primary flavor attributes used to describe the fig cultivars were “fruity,”“melon,”“stone fruit,”“berry,”“citrus,”“honey,”“green,” and “cucumber.” Maturity levels significantly affected the chemical composition and sensory profiles of the fig cultivars. Less mature figs had a higher compression force, a thicker outer skin, and higher ratings for “green” and “latex” flavors, firmness, graininess, bitterness, tingling, and seed adhesiveness. Meanwhile, more mature figs had higher soluble solids concentration, and were perceptibly higher in “fruit” flavors, juiciness, stickiness, sliminess, and sweetness. The specific sensory terminology used for fig appearance and flavor profiles will assist with communication between marketers and consumers, which can increase fresh fig consumption.
Practical Application: The development of a unique set of descriptors for each fresh fig cultivar allows better communication between fig growers, retailers, and consumers. Consumers who are able to correctly anticipate how a particular fig variety tastes are more likely to be satisfied and purchase more figs. This work also demonstrates the need to develop and select cultivars with high flavor attributes for future fresh fig production.