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How to Tell When Figs are Ripe and How to Harvest

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Are you tired of trying to guess when your figs are ready to be picked? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Let’s take the guesswork out of harvesting figs by sharing key indicators of ripeness and easy methods for picking them at their peak flavor. 

From why you should grow figs at home to storing freshly picked figs, we’ve got you covered. Let’s dive in and start enjoying the sweet rewards of homegrown figs!

Why Grow Figs at Home

One of the many reasons why growing figs at home is that it’s rewarding experience to grow your own fruit. There’s also the benefit of being able to harvest fresh figs at peak ripeness, and figs that are fresh just taste better!

Fig plants are also one of the easiest fruits to grow at home. They grow on beautiful trees that add character and appeal to your yard and landscaping. Our fig tree is growing right next to the house, and I love being able to see the fruit grow from my bedroom window. 

If you’re thinking about growing figs at home, be sure to check out my full post on How to Grow Figs at Home for all the details on choosing a variety, planting, and growing no matter what type of fig tree you want to grow. As with most fruit trees and bushes, you won’t harvest the first year. Instead, you’ll want to let your young fig tree get established for its first real fig season. 

When do Figs Get Ripe?

So how do you know the right time of year to harvest? Though you may start to see new growth and small green figs appear in early spring, you’re going to need to wait for that ripe fruit. 

Most common figs typically begin to ripen in late summer to early fall, depending on the variety and climate. This is clearly specific to each growing zone, but they are a summer bearing fruit. 

The ripening process will begin once the figs reach full size. Unripe figs will still be firm to the touch and will have the bright green color they started with. 

What to Look for in Ripe Figs

Whether it’s your first year harvesting, or you’ve been doing this a long time, there are certain things you want to look for to know figs are ripe. And though some of these factors vary based on the variety of fig you’re growing, for the most part, there are universal signs to help you know when your fig harvest is ready. 

  • Softness: The most effective way to tell if a fig is ripe is through it’s softness. One telltale sign of a ripe fig is its softness when gently squeezed. Ready-to-eat figs should also have a slight give to them when touched, indicating their ripeness. Since my figs are bright green, even when harvested, the softness of the figs helps me to harvest consistently ripe figs. 
  • Scent: As figs ripen, they will become plump and juicy, with a rich, sweet aroma that signals their readiness to be enjoyed. I can smell the ripe and delicious figs just by getting close to the tree in the summertime. 
  • Color Change: Different varieties are clearly different colors when ripe, such as brown turkey, lsu gold, or lsu purple figs in particular, you can watch for the color change as well as softness and scent. The color should change and deepen (deep purple, light green, brown-reddish purple) as the little figs ripen up. 
  • Stem Bend: ​Another to test your fig fruit is to look at the stem. A ripe fig’s stem will bend down under the weight of the ripe fruit. 

Be sure to harvest figs at the peak of freshness. Allowing overripe figs to stay on the tree can attract fruit flies, Japanese beetles, and other pests. Ask me how I know. So, harvesting not only gives you the freshest fruit, but also keeps your tree healthy and pests away.

How to Harvest Figs

Once you determine it’s time to harvest figs, how do you go about harvesting your crop of figs at full ripeness without damaging the fruit? To harvest figs, have a container on hand for placing the tender fruit it, and if you have sensitive skin, consider long sleeves. Also, if you have a large fig tree, grab a step stool or tall ladder for those high hanging fruits. 

The best time of day to harvest is morning, To harvest your main crop, gently grasp the fruit and twist it off the tree, being careful not to damage the delicate skin. Figs are fragile, so handle them with care to avoid bruising or squishing them. Once you have harvested your figs, it’s important to store them properly to maintain their freshness and flavor.

Storing Fresh Figs

After harvesting your figs, it’s crucial to store them correctly to preserve their quality and taste. To store fresh figs, place them in a single layer on a paper towel-lined plate or tray. Store them in the refrigerator in a breathable container, such as a paper bag or loosely covered container, to prevent moisture buildup and keep them from spoiling too quickly. 

As with most fresh fruit, avoid washing figs until you are ready to eat them, as excess moisture can cause them to mold. With proper storage, your fresh figs can last for several days in the refrigerator, allowing you to enjoy their sweet and luscious flavor for longer. So make sure to store your figs carefully to savor every delicious bite.

In conclusion, harvesting ripe figs at the peak of their sweet flavor is such a rewarding experience for gardeners. By paying attention to key factors like color, texture, and sweetness, you can ensure that you are picking your figs at their best. 

Remember to follow proper harvesting techniques and store your fresh figs correctly to enjoy their delicious taste for longer. Start picking and savoring your homegrown figs today, and make the most of this delightful fruit straight from your garden. Happy harvesting!

Fruit Growing Guides

Want to grow more fruit in your home garden? Or need a bit of help with your current fruit trees and bushes? I've got you covered with these fruit growing guides!


Wednesday 26th of June 2024

Your guide was very helpful. My dad used to grow fruit for our family but he passed away a couple years ago. We weren't sure what to do with his assortment of fruits but your guide was very helpful.


Thursday 27th of June 2024

Thank you!


Wednesday 26th of June 2024

I think my little fig tree might actually reward me with some fruit this year, so this is very useful - thank you!

Heather Brown

Wednesday 26th of June 2024

Good to know! Plus also? This makes me want to move somewhere warm enough to grow my own figs.


Thursday 27th of June 2024

Yes! It's 98 here today though, so... it has its downsides. ;)