There’s nothing like a fresh ripe fig and there’s nothing like a fresh unripe fig. Ripe delivers a juicy, succulent and melting gem to fawn over. Unripe tastes like a wasted opportunity: dry, starchy and flavorless. It’s good to know the difference.
Here’s my photo guide to knowing when to pick your homegrown figs. Figs can be green, brown, golden, striped or purple. Ripeness has less to do with color and more with how they’re hanging. (Behave.) Varieties above are Negronne (a.k.a. Violette du Bordeaux) and Dessert King and photos below show Peter’s Honey Fig.
How-To: Knowing the Right Time to Pick a Fig
Fig 1. (above) Not ripe: the fig is too firm and still perpendicular to the stem.
Figs 2. Getting riper: the fig gives a bit with touch, skin becomes more translucent, fruit starts to bend and plump up.
Fig 3. Not ready yet, but a heavier softer fruit moves closer to the stem, skin shows wrinkling
Fig 4. Gravity wins and the fig is ripe and ready, no longer able to support its weight. Note the dewy skin and slight tear in the fruit; it can barely hold its sugary contents at this point. (Time to grab the snips and go crazy!)
Fig 5. (Update) I spoke to too soon; this perfectly ripe fig cannot hold its nectar. If you don’t pick it now, the birds will not offer you a second chance.
Here’s my favorite fig recipe.