Anyone who has a fig tree or is used to buying figs must have thought about how difficult it is to tell if the fruit is ripe. But there are some simple tricks for this!
If you have already asked yourself the question: “When are figs ripe?”, the guide below can be useful. With its help, you will recognize ripe fruits and enjoy their taste when they are the most delicious!
The fruit of the common fig is eaten both fresh and dried, and the plant itself is easy to grow. Here are some useful tips on how to tell when a fig is ripe and when it is worth picking.
If birds and other uninvited critters are trying to get ahead of us in the harvest, consider using bird netting to protect your crops.
3 ways to recognize a ripe fig
The color is revealing. One of the first signs that figs are starting to ripen is a change in color. Young, unripe figs are usually small and green in color. In some varieties, the color of the fruit changes from green to brown or purple as it ripens. In the case of other varieties, the ripe fruit also has a greenish color – but how can you rely on the appearance if the color of the fig does not change noticeably? Let’s see the rest!
The appearance is revealing. As the fruit ripens on the tree, it droops more and more. This is true for all varieties, regardless of the color of the ripe fruit. The young, hard fruits mostly stand perpendicular to the tree; and as they ripen and soften, their stems begin to bend downwards where they connect the tree.
The size is revealing. As the fruit ripens on the tree, it gets bigger and bigger. The exact size of the full-grown, ripe fruit depends on the variety, but what is certain is that the size of the fruits of all varieties increases in parallel with ripening.
If the fruit does not grow, it is possible that the tree is overloaded (in this case, it may be worth thinning the fruits to ease the burden on the tree), but it may also be that it is not getting enough water. Furthermore, cold weather has an adverse effect on fruit ripening, especially at the end of the season and in areas with a cooler climate.
Ripe figs are soft to the touch when gently squeezed. Unripe figs are always hard. This is because the ripening process has not yet begun, and the juice and sugars that develop as the fruit ripens are not yet fully present.
Ripe figs are sublimely sweet, soft and smooth in texture when plucked from the tree. Unripe figs, on the other hand, are rubbery, dry and lacking in sweetness. The best way to tell if a fig is unripe is to taste one before it is fully ripe. Most gardeners only need to taste an unripe fig once to decide if they should wait to harvest.
How to harvest figs?
When harvesting figs, you will notice that the ripe fruits separate from the tree very easily. Simply grab the fruit by the stem, lift it up, and then separate it from the tree branch.
In some cases, overripe figs can fall off the tree due to their size and weight if they are not harvested in time.
If the stem oozes a milky white sap when the fig is picked, the fruit is not yet fully ripe; however, if the fig is fully ripe in color, the size of a mature fruit, and soft to the touch, it may still be edible and sweet, even if a little milky sap may be present. Our advice is to taste a single fruit to find out how it tastes. If you find that it is not sweet and juicy enough, leave the rest on the tree for another 1-2 days.
We do not recommend harvesting unripe figs and then trying to let them ripen. Although the unripe fruit will soften at room temperature in a few days, its taste will not always be ideal. However, in areas with cooler climates where frost or low temperatures prevent later harvest, this option may be worth considering.
From time to time, ripe figs still hanging on the tree may release sweet juice – this is also a sign that the fruit is ripe for harvest! It is also worth knowing that in many cases the fruits do not ripen at the same time.