Here’s How To Know When Figs Are Ripe

Yesterday I was browsing our various fruits plants, when I made an exciting discovery. We had ripe figs!

This was particularly wonderful news because although we transplanted these fig trees a couple of years ago from my husband’s grandpa’s old home, this was the first year they actually produced something.

harvested figs in basket
harvested figs in basket

I think they appreciated that I moved them this past Spring to a sunnier place in the yard.

There were only four ripe figs on our plants, but man was their flavor amazing. The kids and I split them and desperately searched for more, to no avail.

That evening I called my mother in law, who has several well established fig trees, and asked her if her figs were ripe yet. She did have some, and was happy to let us come and pick what we wanted.

So that’s just what we did today. You should have seen the two of us, me and my dear mother in law, swinging from the branches trying to bend the long limbs down in order to put the ripe figs within reach.

She used a long hoe to snag a branch and pull it down far enough that I could jump up and grab a hold. We had some good laughs, and were able to harvest about 3 pounds of the fruit.

You can tell the ripe ones from the unripe, because ripe figs are a purplish color (exact shade depends upon variety), and are slightly squishy to touch.

However, my mother in law shared that she even picks them when they aren’t quite at their peak ripeness, and allows them to continue ripening on the counter for 1-2 more days until they’re just right.

(When allowing figs to ripen on the counter, keep them uncovered, or only cover them with a cloth, so that they can breathe and don’t begin to sweat and mold.)

As you can see in the photo, some of the figs we picked were still pretty green. But they were squishy, which told us they would ripen very soon. If you come across figs that are still very green and quite firm, definitely give them a couple more days to ripen before picking.

Size doesn’t really determine ripeness. Some figs will naturally grow larger than others, so judge by the color and firmness.

We’ve enjoyed eating these fresh figs, but I’d really like to can some as well. A lady I recently met gave me a much coveted pickled figs recipe which I’m dying to try (hoping to post that recipe at some point).

I might end up looking to the farmer’s market to see if I can get my hands on a substantial amount of figs to put up for the winter.

What’s your favorite way to use fresh figs? Do you have a special trick to know when figs are ripe?

11 thoughts on “Here’s How To Know When Figs Are Ripe”

  1. What kind of figs does your Mother-in-law have? We have a tree and are trying to identify ours and they look very similar to hers! Thanks!

  2. I have several varieties which ripen at different times. There are many different colors of ripe fruit also. Some have a large cavity, others are almost solid meat indide. Inside colors range from yellow to pink to strawberry red. Would be happy to share cuttings or even plants from here in the beautiful Texas hill country, Leakey on highway 83. God bless you in all you do. 830-232-5096

  3. i didn’t think mine were going to make anything, it seemed that the figs were not going to ripen, but all of a sudden they started to ripen and i fought the birds for them. i canned some this year. i have made fig preserves and fig conserve, with nuts etc. also i have frozen them for pies or cobblers. enjoy yours…..nancy

  4. Hi there 🙂
    We have three fig trees on our property and like making jam with them. We were able to do a sugar free version using grape juice which was good too. Also, great placing the jam in fruit and grain cereal bars for snacks.

    One tip I learned that I appreciated was to pass out your extra figs (or perhaps even store them) in egg cartons so that they don’t smash each other.

    Happy harvesting!

    • John,

      It probably depends upon variety. My mother in law has had these fig trees for more years than I know. I trust her judgment, lol. If she says they’re ripe enough to pick and let sit on the counter for a few days, I’ll take her word for it 😉 Plus, you can’t see it on many of them, but the tops of the green figs are already turning purple, it’s just the bottom of them that’s still pretty green. They were nice and soft, so it’s only a matter of time before they’re ready. 🙂 We figured we’d pick the ones that were close to being done ’cause there were hornets around us and we wanted to get as many as we could in one picking instead of risking another encounter with the hornets.

  5. I absolutely love fresh figs! Someday I will have a fig tree, too. Happy for you, I’ll bet next year’s harvest will fill the basket!


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