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Harvest Perfect Figs Every Time | How & When to Pick Figs

When I ate my first fresh fig, which was grown from my own homegrown tree, I didn't like it. I wasn't impressed. At that point, however, I had eaten many dried figs, which I couldn't get enough of so I thought, something isn't right here.

Well, unlike you, I had to discover the secrets of a perfect fig harvest and now I'm going to share them all with you.

This guide covers everything you need to know to pick figs at their peak ripeness for maximum flavor and nutrition. From understanding the ripening process to the signs of a ripe fig that’s ready for harvest, and even tips for faster ripening like oiling and pinching, you'll be picking figs like a pro in no time.

As always if you want more fig-related content like this, feel free to subscribe to the Fig Boss newsletter at the top of the page.

Why Proper Timing of Your Harvest is Critical

When figs are harvested properly, they're truly one of the best fruits on Earth. When they're picked underripe, they're bland and tough, and they may even have an unappealing resinous flavor from the tree's latex sap. When they're picked overripe, figs can spoil, mold, or ferment.

  • Like most fruits, figs have a short window of peak ripeness and if you can accurately time your fig picking, you can enjoy figs the way they're meant to.

  • Remember, you can choose the optimal moment for the best color, size, flavor, and nutritional content. That’s the best part about growing fruit at home.

  • Frequently, people who don't like figs, have no idea how to pick them, or have only eaten figs from the grocery store that are almost always picked underripe.

What Does a Ripe Fig Look Like?

The visual indicators of a ripe fig are skin color, fruit size, the fruit hanging in a drooping manner on the branches, and cracked skin. Some varieties can develop a drop of ‘honey’ or fig nectar at the location of the eye that also acts as an indicator of ripeness.

Visual indicators of a ripe fig post-harvest:

After harvesting a ripe fig, the tree will not leak a milky sap present at the location of the fruit scar (where the fruit was removed from the branch) and the stem or neck of the fruit will also not have any white latex sap present.

Additionally, if you cut the fig open, the outer portion of the pulp (just inside the skin) called the pith should be not a bright white color. The pith should start to turn yellowish or even bleed together in color with the pulp as shown in the photo above. Lastly, the pith tends to narrow as the fig ripens longer.