The brown turkey fig is a sweet, unassuming fruit that’s fun to grow and eat. Despite its name, you’re sure to “gobble” up the brown turkey fig at all times of the year, not just at Thanksgiving!
Keep reading to learn all the ins and outs of this fig variety!
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Characteristics of the Brown Turkey Fig
The brown turkey fig looks pretty similar to other figs, but it does have a few small touches that make it unique!
For starters, the tree has silvery-gray bark and can grow anywhere from 10 to 30 feet tall.
Its leaves are green during the growing season and turn yellow in the late fall. They may also turn yellow throughout the spring or summer if the tree isn’t watered properly.
The outside of the fruit itself starts out green, but it can turn brown, reddish-purple or brownish-purple once it ripens. The inside is a pinkish-orange color, and it’s filled with lots of small, hollow seeds. Compared to other varieties of figs, the brown turkey fig is medium-sized.
The Brown Turkey Fig’s History
Also known as the ficus carica, the brown turkey fig was originally imported from the Mediterranean region to California.
Once it reached the United States, this fig variety was cultivated specifically to self-pollinate so that one tree could grow on its own. This is why the brown turkey fig is a self-pollinator!
Ways to Enjoy the Brown Turkey Fig
There are so many delicious ways to prepare and eat this type of fig! The brown turkey fig’s sweet flavor makes it one of the most popular and versatile fig varieties in the United States.
Figs are delicious fresh but can also be effectively frozen, canned, preserved, and dehydrated. You can even use the leaves in recipes or dehydrate them for tea!
Fresh brown turkey figs taste delicious on their own, but you can also incorporate them into a range of recipes.
For a fig-based dessert that will satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth, try out this recipe for an Italian cookie called Cuccidati!
If you’re looking for something a little more savory, this recipe for Stuffed Bison Burgers with Caramelized Figs and Shallots is a unique dinner idea for the meat-eaters in your life.
Health Benefits of Figs
Not only does the brown turkey fig make a delicious snack, but it’s also a super healthy fruit packed with vitamins and other nutrients!
For example, figs are a great source of fiber. With approximately two grams of fiber per large fig, they promote digestion and regularity.
Figs are also full of potassium, which regulates your blood pressure and help keep your heart health going strong. One serving of figs contains about 10% of your recommended daily amount.
Growing Your Own
If you have a green thumb, you may even be interested in growing your own brown turkey figs! With the right materials and a little learning, gardeners of all skill levels can figure out how to grow their very own fig tree.
Depending on how much space you have in your yard, it may make sense to grow a potted fig tree. You can also plant indoors or outdoors, depending on your climate.
Whether they’re planted outside or inside, all fig trees need to be in an area that will receive full sunlight for approximately four to eight hours per day.
In addition, fig trees require well-draining, non-acidic soil, ideally with a pH between 6.0 and 6.5.
When picking the exact planting location, find a spot far away from other plants. Fig trees can grow fairly large and have spread roots, so they need some additional space.
To plant your brown turkey fig tree, dig a hole slightly wider than the roots and place the tree in the hole, ensuring the roots are spread evenly. Finally, fill the hole with soil and water the tree.
Brown turkey fig trees require four essential elements to stay healthy and grow successfully: lots of sunlight, a steady watering routine, sufficient nutrients, and protection from harmful forces like frost and insects.
To properly hydrate your tree, water twice a week for about the first three months, then decrease to once a week unless issues arise.
Your fig tree probably won’t need fertilizer, but if it’s really struggling, you can use a little 10-10-10 fertilizer near the tree’s root zone.
If the temperature ever drops below 10 degrees Fahrenheit, cover the tree with temperature protection materials or move it inside if it’s potted.
To manage pests like aphids or fig mites, try applying a substance like neem oil to the affected area.
Generally, it takes three to five years after initial planting for fruit to grow on a fig tree, so you’ll have to be patient to reap the reward of fully-grown brown turkey figs!
When fully grown, this type of fig tree will often produce fruit two times a year, especially if grown in a warmer climate. Harvesting generally happens once in late spring or early summer and once in late summer or early fall.
After harvesting the fruit, prune any overcrowded or dead branches to help the tree stay healthy and give it room to grow.
Once your brown turkey figs are harvested, store the fruit in a cool, dry area away from direct sunlight.
If stored in room temperature conditions, fresh figs will only last a couple of days. Frozen and dried figs last longer, so consider those storage options if you want your figs to have a longer shelf life.
Where to Buy
When growing figs, the best strategy is to buy a small plant and transfer it into the ground or a pot rather than starting as seeds.
Brown turkey fig trees are widely available online, and you might also be able to find them in your local nursery.
Enjoying the Brown Turkey Fig
Now that you know all about how to plant, harvest, and prepare the brown turkey fig, you have what it takes to go out and do it yourself!
If you liked learning about the brown turkey fig and want to learn more about other fig varieties, check out our Fig Trees page for more information!