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When Are Figs Ripe?

Question:

I have a fig tree that I planted 3 summers ago. It has grown well and is now about 7 feet tall. We have let 4 main shoots remain and cut back the others. We bought it at a flea market and I do not know what kind of fig it is. Last year, it had a few figs on it, but they never developed and ripened. It is currently loaded with fruit, but I don't know when they should ripen. As the tree grows, new fruit is appearing, but all are still green and hard. When can I expect ripe figs?

Hardiness Zone: 7b

Harlean from Hot Springs, Arkansas

Answer:

Harlean, I can't tell you "when" exactly that you'll have ripe figs, but I can tell you what to look for so you'll know when they are ready.

Fig trees will usually produce a full crop of figs within a month's time once the first figs start to ripen. Warmer zones may see more than one crop in a season. Before figs are fully ripe, they appear to extend straight upwards from the branch. As they ripen, the fruit starts to droop and hang vertically from the branch. Its texture will become soft, but firm, and the skin will appear thin and moist, sometimes splitting open to reveal the flesh. (Use care when picking and transporting ripe figs. With their thin skins they are easily damaged.) The outer skin of a ripe fig will also turn color. In the U.S. many of the most commonly grown figs turn a pale golden yellow, but this depends on the variety you are growing. When you lift them upwards from their drooping position, a ripe fig will separate easily from the branch.

Most figs are best when eaten as soon as possible (within a few days) of becoming ripe. You can extend this peak period by a day or two if you keep them in the fridge. Figs can also be frozen in light syrup (using a sugar pack) and kept for several months. It's important to pick your figs when then they are ripe, because they really don't continue to ripen well once they have been picked. If absolutely necessary, you may be able to bring an under-ripe fig to its peak if you leave it in a sunny windowsill for a day or two.

Ellen

About The Author: Ellen Brown is our Green Living and Gardening Expert. Click here to ask Ellen a question! Ellen Brown is an environmental writer and photographer and the owner of Sustainable Media, an environmental media company that specializes in helping businesses and organizations promote eco-friendly products and services. Contact her on the web at http://www.sustainable-media.com

Recent Answers

By Kelley from Fayetteville GA09/06/2012

I have a brown turkey fig bush that got the right amount of water and fertilizer this year, and I have a bumper crop, but they will not ripen. Just when I start to get any to turn color, the crows get them, so I never get any to ripen on the tree. What can I do to keep the birds away?

By Ray B08/28/2010

To keep fig pests, bees, flys, wasps from laying claim to your ripening figs just spray them after they have swollen in size and the eye is opening, with "Pam" oil spray. The insects do not like the oil and stay clear as the fig finishes its ripening. The Pam spray washes off in warm water and you can consume them or put in your dehydrator as usual.

By Ben (Guest Post)09/17/2008

I've a fig tree over 6 years. It cannot develop to maturity, and the fruit is still green, which has regular water & fertilizer. It started from 2006 to now. What's for?

By Barbara (Guest Post)09/14/2008

Last year I planted my fig tree and had 20 delicious figs. This year I have many more but they are all green and hard. It is September 14th. Is this normal for Long Island, NY.?

By Paul Hannan (Guest Post)09/05/2007

My fig tree is also about 3 years old, and this year it took off and also went to 7' tall, with a few long branches, which I had to tie together, as the tree branches were touching the ground. I ate one off the tree a week ago, and it was sweet. Today I took 2 off, they were a golden yellow, and they had a hard skin. The inside was dry, and not very good. Did I leave it on the tree too long?
Paul The Villages, Florida

By Lynda (Guest Post)08/05/2006

Mother had the best fig BUSH in the world, to me, and the figs were ripe when they turned slightly brown and soft. We put coffee grounds and banana peelings all around the base all year, then cut only about a 1/3 off each stem when all leaves fell off, mulching HEAVILY with leaves during the frost, removing the mulch in the Spring and watering regularly but not too much. Give the bush about 6-8 hours of full sun, but not too much western sun.

There is a borer that likes to lay eggs in the fig fruit, so look into spraying the bush twice a year with Sun Oil, I believe. Ask your local garden center or order from Gardens Alive.

Also, they can be set in a sunny window to ripen if not quite ready to eat. Remember that too many can "pucker" the lips and mouth lining, so eat moderately, can the rest, and share with neighbors. Good luck and God bless.

By Harlean from Arkansas [125]07/28/2006

At last, my figs are beginning to ripen. We found a couple a few days ago that were ripe, and there are a few more almost ready. So I guess we will have figs to eat this year.
Harlean from Arkansas

By (Guest Post)07/23/2006

We have 6 Brown Turkey fig trees. We harvest & eat when the fruit is brown & soft.

RE: When Are Figs Ripe?

By June (Guest Post)07/18/2006

My fig tree is also loaded this year - I'm in West Tennessee, so our zones are close - and yesterday, some of the figs on the south side of the tree were almost ripe. Within the next week or so, the first group should be ready. If it's like last year, the figs will ripen in groups over a 3-4 week period. The blue jays and mockingbirds are already staking out their claims!

By Beth (Guest Post)07/18/2006

Strange that the fruit last year didn't ripen. If your tree is one that bears light-colored fruit, the color won't change much - it will become more yellow but still tinged with green. Look at the "eye" - the circle on the bottom of each fruit. When it begins to open that is a sign of ripening, and bees & wasps will soon flock to it! Also the fruit will droop slightly and the stem will separate from the tree without tugging on it. I have two trees - one is just enormous and has just finished a huge crop of yellow green fruits. I dried a lot of them, freoze more, and gave big batches to the neighbors. The second tree is now ripening its crop. Some years they fruit a second time in September but I don't expect it this year because of the severe drought.

By Faye Clayton (Guest Post)07/18/2006

I also live in Arkansas. In the eastern part of the state. Mine are getting ripe now. Southern Living has a really good Fig Cake recipe. It is http://www.SouthernLiving.com

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