Figs are a deliciously sweet and tropical fruit but the skin can leave your tongue tingling. This can even feel a little like a burning sensation which is alarming the first time you experience it. Does this mean that fig skin is inedible and dangerous? Can you eat fig skin?
You can eat fig skin, it is edible and completely safe. Some people prefer to peel figs before eating but there is no need! You can eat the whole fig, including the skin.
What Does Fig Skin Taste Like?
The skin of the fig is actually very thin and doesn’t have any flavour that is particularly different from the fig itself. That sweet flavour is still apparent although it might be a little more subdued on the skin.
To eat figs off the tree in the very early morning, when they have been barely touched by the sun, is one of the exquisite pleasures of the Mediterranean.Elizabeth David, An Omelette and a Glass of Wine
The main difference you will notice between the fig and the fig skin is how it feels to eat it. Some people notice a tingling sensation on their tongue when biting into a fig. It’s commonly thought that this is because of the hundreds of minute hairs that cover the fig and these tickle your tongue as you eat the fig!
Another explanation is that the skin contains ficin.
Ficin is an enzyme that breaks down protein and it is this process you are experiencing when you get that burning sensation. Don’t worry it is completely safe! Some figs won’t produce this sensation and whether or not this happens is down to how ripe the fig is.
Ripe figs won’t cause this sensation. It is unripe figs that are more likely to give you a tingly sensation.
How to Eat Fig Skin
Fig skin doesn’t have many uses other than as part of the fruit as a whole but here are a couple of ideas of how to eat figs and fig skin, besides just eating it on its own how you’d eat an apple, of course:
If you like to peel your fig skins before eating the fruit then don’t waste them. Pop them onto a baking tray and drizzle with a little oil. Pop them into the oven and bake until the skins are crispy.
Now you have a tasty snack that can be eaten as an alternative to crisps or sweets. If you want to dd a little extra flavour you could sprinkle with a little sugar and cinnamon before baking.
You can also bake whole figs in much the same way. Take whole figs, cut them in half and then smother in honey, cinnamon and orange zest then bake for around 20 minutes.
Serve warm with a dollop of cream or mascarpone and a sprinkling of pistachio slivers and enjoy (skins and all!)
Figs make a delicious addition to a salad to give you a tropical flavour and add sweetness. Either slice up your whole figs and pop them into the salad or use your fig peelings instead. Chop the peelings up and sprinkle them over the salad as a topping.
You could even fry the fig skins then chop them up finely for added crunch. Ultimately, the easiest way to take a salad to the next level is to add texture.
Like an Apple
Ultimately, figs are a fruit and they don’t need to be cooked to be eaten. You can cut a fig in half then eat it like an apple. You may find the skin tough and chewy but it’s perfectly edible.
Benefits of Eating Fig Skin
Figs, including the skin, are high in all sorts of vitamins and minerals. They are high in natural sugars and fibre and also contain magnesium, iron and copper. On top of that, they contain antioxidants and lots of vitamins A and K.
The result of this cocktail of goodness is that figs are good for digestion and they can work as a natural laxative if you need a little help digesting and passing your food. There are even studies that suggest that figs can help those suffering from IBS symptoms.
Figs are also thought to have anti-cancer properties and can help manage your insulin and sugar levels if you have diabetes.
Other properties of figs are that they can help to make your skin and hair glow and appear smooth and soft.
Should You Eat Fig Skin?
There is absolutely no reason not to eat fig skin! Not everybody enjoys the occasional tingling sensation you get but it is safe to eat fig skin and this helps to reduce your food waste.
So instead of giving yourself the fiddly task of peeling those figs, just eat them whole and get as much goodness from the fruit as you can. You might decide you actually like it!
Fig Skin FAQs
If you’ve got other specific questions about eating fig skin then these might help:
Although the skin might be tough and some of the seeds a little crunchy, you can eat figs whole in the same way you would eat an apple or a pear.
Generally, the colour of the fig denotes how ripe it is. A deep purple fig will be soft and juice and the skin will be easy to bite through. A green-skinned fig is likely to be less ripe which can mean the skin is a little tougher.