Video: When Is a Fig Ripe and Ready to Pick?

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Vashon Violet fig tree
An almost-ripe Vashon Violet fig

When is a fig ripe and ready to pick? For figs, the peak of ripeness is a magic state reached on the tree, not the kitchen counter. Picked too early, the fig languishes unripe and inedible until rot slowly takes its artful form.  An unripe fig has all the culinary appeal of a cotton ball. If you don’t believe me, take a hint from nature; figs can hang untouched on a tree for weeks and the minute (seemingly the very minute) the sugars reveal themselves and true ripeness is reached, every critter in the county with a flying or climbing capability is out to devour the bounty of this aerial smorgasbord.

So how can you tell when fig ripeness is reached? Look for the sugar slump as I call it, the plump point where the fig can no longer support its own weight from the stem. In the following video, I show the stages of ripeness and a close-up view of fig several varieties. (Try not to drool on you laptop.)

(Click on the image below to play the video.)

Related Fig Info

sliced Vashon Violet fig
A ripeness worth waiting for…

11 COMMENTS

  1. Love this video – especially the dappled sun, of course – now I know when to pick my figs! Assuming our local wildlife gang doesn’t get there first. Thanks, Tom!

    • Eileen, figs would really be a challenge in your climate, but if potted could be brought into a garage that stays above freezing and removed when that temperature is above freezing outside. Most figs produce on last year’s growth, so you don’t want the branches to freeze back and die in the winter.

  2. what a useful video! would love to see more of these, as I am fascinated with gardening. I am assuming your figs grow in the summer like the ones we have in Lebanon, right? I had never seen the long one you showed anywhere else. You need to meet Bass Semaan he is a facebook friend and he grows hundreds of figs in Pennsylvania.

    • Hi Joumana, yes, these all ripen in mid to late summer here in the Pacific NW. That long fig is a local sport found on the island. I’ll be sure and check out Bass Semaan’s Facebook page for fig info. Thanks!

  3. This was very helpful, Tom. I am a transplant and know lots about gardening, but have never had the ripeness or not of figs explained to me. I appreciate it. Maybe I’ll plant one or two now!

      • Thanks Allison, but I don’t know…Master B. could likely run circles around me in the kitchen. But sure I’d be happy to share what I know.
        cheers!

  4. Hey Tom!! I googled how to know if a fig is ripe and lo & behold, there was your link 2nd from the top! I don’t have fig trees so will be buying it at the store…alas, I hope it’s tastier than a cotton ball! I’m making a fig/prosciutto salad for a porch warming. This recipe is right up your alley when your figs are on. https://www.pinterest.com/pin/566538828107164981/
    Hugs, your ol’ friend Debi in KC/home of the Nelson Riley Museum 😉

  5. Debi, great to hear from you, and I had to laugh at your last line. For awhile I even called it the Nelson Riddle Museum. 😉 take care! tc

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