When are figs ripe?

How to Store Fresh Figs So They Don’t Get Moldy Immediately

Figs are fickle. They have a short growing season and an even shorter shelf life. So what’s the best way to store figs to keep them as fresh as possible for as long as possible? After all, there’s nothing more disappointing than splurging on a box of figs only to realize they’ve spoiled before you’ve had a chance to eat them. And you knowwhen a fig has spoiled. The fruit will be mushy, and the juice will often leak through the skin, making a mess. The good news is that you can learn how to store fresh figs to extend their life.

The bad news, however, is that your window for eating a fresh fig is really small even if you do store figs correctly. That’s because figs are about 80 percent water, making them “very fragile and perishable,” according to Harold McGee’s book On Food and Cooking. And they start going bad as soon as you pick them off the tree.

You realistically only have about three days to eat all of your figs. While you can keep figs on the counter at room temperature, you’re going to have better luck at making them last if you refrigerate them. You should put them in a shallow bowl so they don’t roll around and bruise, according to Megan Gordon at The Kitchn, and cover that bowl with plastic wrap so the fruit doesn’t “start to smell like last night’s leftovers!”

If you don’t think you’re going to be able to eat all of the figs you bought before they get moldy, or you just want to be able to eat and use them long after fig season finishes, you can also store figs in the freezer. According to the experts at the Valley Fig Growers, a California-based cooperative, you can freeze figs for up to a year “in an airtight bag or container.”

But really, if you’ve got fresh figs in your hands, you should probably just eat all of them immediately. And that’s ultimately the best tip to keeping figs fresh: eat them right now.


  1. Fig and Blue Cheese Flatbread (pictured above) with a little bit of prosciutto and caramelized onions will hit the spot. Use store-bought pizza dough to speed up the prep-to-eating process.
  2. Fig Preserves, people. Whether you’re picking these puppies right off the tree or from the farmers market, preserves make fantastic gifts that last all year long. Don’t forget to sterilize the jars properly.
  3. Taking the preserves one step further: Fig-Ruby Port Preserves.
  4. Frank’s Moustache Ride Cocktail is one of the tastiest ways to relax. Don’t have any fig simple syrup on hand? Reconstitute dried figs while making a simple syrup with water and sugar.
  5. Poussin Sotto Mattone utilizes the classic preparation of cooking under a brick, which helps all parts of the chicken to cook at the same temperature while flattening it out simultaneously. “Frenching” the wings of the poussin is easy; cut off the wingtip and place the chicken on a cutting board. Using a sharp knife, push all of the skin and meat towards the drumstick and expose the bone. You know you’ve been frenching right if the end product looks like a chicken Popsicle.
  6. End-of-summer grilling is complemented by a 10-minute dessert: Grilled Figs with Ricotta and Molasses or Melted Chocolate.
  7. Another simple dessert recipe: stuffed Figs with Ricotta, Pistachio and Honey. Toasting the pistachios will bring out their nutty flavor.
  8. Salads come in all shapes and sizes. Emeril’s super simple Fig Salad is composed of figs, serrano ham and Manchego cheese.
  9. Alton Brown’s all-purpose Pie Crust is the perfect home for the spicy (think cinnamon and nutmeg) Fig, Pear, Raspberry Pie.
  10. The best way to show off this season’s figs? Try the Fig, Cream Cheese and Mint Tart.
  11. A simple dough and lemon zest create the foundation for the Lemon Crostata with Fresh Figs and Goat Cheese recipe.
  12. Poach figs in Port wine or in a spiced syrup with honey. Choose slightly underripe figs, as ripe figs may burst after a short amount of time in the poaching liquid.
  13. Buffalo Mozzarella Bocconcini, Fig and Arugula Salad. Cheese? Check. Figs? Check. Some greens? OK, but don’t get in the way of my cheese and fig combo.
  14. Go big or go home, right? Whip out the ice-cream maker for one last batch of fresh ice cream: Charlie Trotter’s Whole Roasted Figs with Goats’ Cheese Ice Cream, Spicy Fig Sauce and Oatmeal Tuiles.
  15. Keep out that ice-cream maker for Fresh Fig Gelato and Fresh Fig Upside-Down Cake with Hazelnut Ice Cream.
  16. If you haven’t figured it out already, figs and pistachios are a match made in salty-sweet heaven. Bobby Flay’s Orange Ricotta Pancakes with Caramelized Fig and Pistachio Compote will get everyone out of bed and down to the kitchen table.
  17. Kelsey’s Fig Tart is better with bacon!
  18. Homemade or store-bought duck prosciutto adds a delicate, buttery flavor to the Fig and Duck Prosciutto Salad. If duck prosciutto is out of the question, substitute traditional prosciutto.
  19. Nadia G. has done it again: Egg White with Caramelized Onions and Homemade Fig Jam Sandwich with Salad and Maple Balsamic Dressing. If it was me, I’d make an extra few batches of the fig jam and can it for the long winter to come. Just saying.
  20. Emeril’s recipe for Baby Arugula with Smithfield Ham, Blue Cheese and Fresh Fig Vinaigrette comes together in a flash. Whiz up the figs with brown butter, sugar and apple cider vinegar and you’re ready to go.
  21. If Citrus Yogurt with figs doesn’t sound as appealing as some of these other recipes, it will once you learn that Nigella Lawson adds orange zest, red wine, honey and cinnamon to the mix.
  22. The only way to improve upon classic Prosciutto Wrapped Figs is to make Anne Burrell’s Grilled Prosciutto Wrapped Figs Stuffed with Goat Cheese.
  23. Politics aside, foie gras is one of the most delicious indulgences around and Pan-Seared Foie Gras with Figs and Port Wine Sauce is a special treat. Don’t forget to clean the foie gras and remove the veins.
  24. A light layer of tomato paste is the glue that holds everything together in this easy Prosciutto, Mozzarella and Fig Pizza (pictured below).
  25. End on a light note with the Fresh Pear and Fig Mixed Green Salad.

Serve figs sliced and drizzled with milk or cream, perhaps add a dusting of sugar.

For a blend of sweet and savory, wrap fig slices in proscuitto, also thinly sliced.

Ripe figs are intensely sweet. Some say the fig is the sweetest of all fruit. That’s probably true. Figs were commonly used as a sweetener before sugar was known.

Figs can be eaten fresh out of hand, dried, or cooked. It’s been that way for thousands of years. Figs are one of the most ancient of edible plants.

There are more than 150 varieties of figs. Figs can be round or oval or pear-shaped and can range in color from purple to black to green to white. Ripe figs have one thing in common they are very delicate and highly perishable.

There are two seasons for figs: first early summer and then again from midsummer through late autumn. In some regions, figs can still be harvested in early winter. In the northern hemisphere, fresh figs can be found in some farm markets at Christmas.

Fig Varieties

The Black Mission and Brown Turkey are perhaps the best-known figs. Here is a short guide to the figs you can grow or find at a nearby farm market:

• Black Mission or Mission has a purple-black skin with a strawberry-pink flesh and rich flavor. This fig is harvested late spring through late autumn.

• Brown Turkey is pear-shaped, brownish-purple with a richly flavored red flesh. Find this fig from late spring through mid-winter.

• Kadota is a small fig with a thick, yellow-green skin that is violet-fleshed and has excellent flavor. Available late spring through autumn.

• Calimyrna is a large, squat fig with greenish-yellow skin and pale pink to white-fleshed. This fig has a nutlike flavor and is available from mid to late summer.

• Brunswick also called Magnolia is a large, dark brown fig with a pinkish-yellow flesh and mild flavor.

• Celeste is a medium size, pear-shaped fig with a violet-purple-skin and tasty rose-colored flesh.

• Smyrna is a dark-skinned fig commonly popular for drying.

• Adriatic is a pear-shaped fig that is violet to brown-skinned.

Fig Facts

Figs grow on trees. A fig tree can grow to 90 feet (27 m) across and nearly as high, but more commonly the fig grows from about 13 to 22 feet (4-7 m) tall. Figleaves have three to five lobes.

Figs are not fruit in the botanical sense, but a fleshy receptacle containing a large number of small brittle, edible seeds, or achenes, which are the actual fruit. You could describe the fig as a fleshy, hollow branch bearing its small flowers and fruit on the inside. There are as many as 1,500 tiny fruits in each fig. Figs are pollinated by tiny wasps that enter the receptacle through a small hole opposite the stem.

Figs are native to the eastern Mediterranean region. They were first cultivated between 4000 and 2700 B.C. The ancient Greeks and Romans were among the first to grow figs for food. The fig was brought to North America by the Spanish Franciscan missionaries in the sixteenth century. Today, figs grow in most temperate regions around the world.

Figs in the Kitchen

Choosing Fig: Figs must be picked at their peak. They do not ripen off of the tree. Ripe figs give easily to pressure. Select soft plump figs with firm, intact stems that smell sweet.

Avoid figs that are hard or dry or that have flattened sides or are split or show signs of mold. Select figs that are not bruised. Ripe figs will produce clear, sticky syrup from the blossom end. An overripe fig will have a sour odor due to the fermentation of its juice.

Dried figs should be slightly soft and pleasant smelling.

Storing Figs: Ripe figs are best used immediately after harvest. You can keep figs at room temperature, uncovered, out of the direct sun for a few days. Refrigerate figs for 2 or 3 days in a single layer on a paper towel, covered with plastic wrap. Bring figs to room temperature before serving.

Preparing Figs: Wash figs under cool water before serving. Eat figs whole or peeled. Peel figs with a paring knife. Dried figs can be soaked in water or juice before serving.

Cooking and Serving Figs

Cooking. Figs can be baked, grilled or poached.

  • Baking: Rinse figs. Glaze and bake until hot throughout (about 15 minutes).
  • Grilling: Rinse figs and cut into halves. Thread on skewers, making sure fruit lies flat. Grill until hot (about 4 to 6 minutes).
  • Poaching: Rinse 10 to 12 firm-ripe green or black figs. Simmer in poaching liquid until hot and tender (about 3 to 5 minutes.

Serve. Here are some tasty ways to bring figs to the table:

  • Slice or have and add to fruit salads.
  • Bake and serve with butter, lemon, and honey.
  • Roast with ham or pork: set whole figs in dripping during the last 15 minutes of cooking.
  • Wrap halves in slice prosciutto or salami.
  • Top open-faced cheese sandwiches with fig slices.
  • Serve in a green salad with Roquefort cheese and pecans.
  • Spread ginger-snaps with cream cheese and top with fig slices.
  • Stuff with a small chunk of cherry-flavored Gourmandise cheese.
  • Serve slices with custard sauce flavored with orange liqueur.
  • Stuff dried figs with almonds or other nuts or sections of an orange.

Nutrition. Figs are a good source of iron, calcium, phosphorus and natural sugar. A large fig has about 50 calories.

The botanical name for figs is Ficus carica.

Also of interest:

How to Plant, Grow, Prune, and Harvest Figs


Winner of our best-shaped fruit award (runner up: bananas), figs also score highly on taste, texture and color. They make very attractive starters (e.g. served with Parma or Serrano ham) and delicious desserts. Try them drizzled with honey and your choice of cinnamon, thyme and pistachios, then roasted and served with a dollop of mascarpone or crème fraiche. And they’re a great addition to an after-dinner cheese board.


Thought to be indigenous to western Asia, the selection and cultivation of figs began in remote antiquity. Stone tablets dating back over 4,000 years record the use of figs in southern Iraq and the harvesting of figs is depicted in an Egyptian tomb painting from around 1,900 B.C.

Figs were grown in Greece by the eighth century B.C. and taken to Spain, Portugal and North Africa with Arab conquests. Later they were spread via European invasions to Central America (sixteenth century), North America (seventeenth century) and Australia (eighteenth century).


Technically a single fig is a syconium containing over 1,000 tiny fruits (what are thought of as the seeds).

There are hundreds of varieties of the common fig (Figus carica) ranging in color from purple-black to yellowish-green. Fig trees can grow to 15m tall and many types are dependent on fig wasps for their reproduction; the wasps pollinate the fig as they move between seed pods laying eggs.


Figs do not ripen after picking and so unripe figs are to be avoided. Choose figs that are richly colored, plump and soft but with unbroken skins. At peak ripeness they may be covered with a light, fuzzy bloom. A sour smell indicates figs that are past their best.

After harvesting, figs have a short life. Keep in the refrigerator and use within a day or two.

Wipe with a damp kitchen towel. If the stem end is hard, cut it off. To show figs at their best, halve them or cut a cross in the top and press your finger in to splay them out.


When the last of the fresh figs have disappeared for the year, get some dried figs and make Figgy Pudding…

When Are Figs in Season?

Where do Figs Grow?

The fig is native to the Mediterranean and will grow well in similar mild, semi-arid climates. Commercial figs are produced primarily in Turkey, Morocco, Iran and Egypt, but are also grown in Chile, New Zealand, Spain and Algeria. In the US, most figs are produced in states like California and Texas, although they are also grown in Utah and Oregon.

What USDA Zones are Best for Figs?

Figs generally don’t tolerate temperatures below 20°F (°C) – the tree may survive but is unlikely to produce fruit. However, varieties vary in terms of hardiness. The overall range for figs is USDA Zones 5 through 9. Gardeners in warmer regions will have better luck, but those in colder areas can often grow figs in containers that are moved indoors for the winter.

How Can I Grow Figs?

If you have the right climate, fig trees are not fussy about growing conditions. They prefer a soil pH of 6.0 to 6.5 but can also tolerate more acidic soil. They will grown well in average garden soil and don’t usually need much in the way of fertilizer – compost or organic mulch is sufficient. They need regular, deep watering about once week and should not be over-watered to prevent root rot.

Can I Grow Figs in Containers?

Figs can be grown in containers if you choose the right variety. Either select a smaller tree or prune to keep it below six feet. The container should be about the size of a half barrel to allow enough room for the roots. Make sure the container has adequate drainage holes and use soil that drains well. Place the container in bright, indirect light rather than full sun.

What Varieties of Fig Are Available?

The most common commercial fig varieties include the following:

  • Black Mission – purple to black skin; mid-May to November.
  • Calimyrna – pale yellow skin; July to September.
  • Kadota – creamy amber skin; mid-June to October.
  • Brown Turkey – light purple to black skin; mid-May to December.
  • Sierra – light yellow to cream skin; June to November.
  • Tiger – light yellow with dark green stripe, interior is bright purple-red; mid-July to November.

Do Figs Have Two Seasons?

Most figs produce two crops. The first, called the breba crop, is short and usually occurs in late spring or early summer. The breba crop is produced on older wood. Figs from the breba crop are not edible in all varieties. The main crop ripens in the late summer and fall. This crop is produced on new wood. Commercial growers prune the trees to maximize new wood growth.

Which Fig Variety has the Longest Season?

Growing conditions and climate can affect fig season, but some varieties do tend to produce over a longer period. Home gardeners may be able to pick over a longer period as they are not tied to market demands. Brown Turkey and Black Mission are the varieties with the longest season in most cases, followed by Sierra, Kadota and Calimyrna. Tiger has the shortest season.

When Are Imported Figs Available?

Imported figs may come from countries that have the same season as the US or from countries below the equator. Figs imported from areas like Turkey, Spain, Algeria and Morocco will have seasons similar to those in the US – roughly late spring and early summer to fall. Fresh figs available in markets after December are usually imported from Chile, New Zealand and other countries below the equator.

How Can I Extend the Fig Season?

The best way to extend the season is to grow different varieties. If you grow Brown Turkey and Mission, for example, you can have fresh figs from mid-May through December. In some climates, figs will bear nearly year round, but those climates tend to be in tropical areas. Fig trees also tend to have a slightly longer season and bear more heavily as they grow older.

How Can I Ripen Figs More Quickly?

In ideal conditions, figs can ripen in as little as two months. However, any kind of stress slows ripening. Make sure your tree has adequate water, as drought delays ripening. Protect the tree from insects and diseases, which also cause stress. If you have very poor soil, either amend it before planting or use a balanced 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 organic fertilizer.

How Can I Protect Ripening Figs?

Birds are the worst problem you are likely to have as the figs ripen, although insects like figeater beetles are also attracted to the sweet fruit. Nets are the most effective way to deal with marauding birds. Prune the tree relatively low – six to eight feet – to make it easier to spread nets. Hand picking and good garden sanitation are the best way to deal with beetles.

What’s the Best Way to Store Fresh Figs?

Figs must ripen on the tree and are highly perishable. Pick when the fig is fully colored, feels plump and is slightly soft but not mushy. Store at room temperature in a single layer for several days. They can also be refrigerated for two to three days. Although they will become softer when stored, they will not ripen further, so don’t pick when unripe.

Can Fresh Figs be Canned?

Canning is a good choice for preserving fresh figs. You can use a light or heavy syrup, can them with stevia (not aspartame) or even plain water. Lemon juice or citric acid are used to increase acidity and preserve color. The fruit need not be peeled and is usually canned whole in pint or quart jars. Use tested recipes and follow directions exactly.

Can I Dry Fresh Figs?

In climates where figs are produced commercially, they are typically allowed to begin drying on the tree. You can sun dry your own figs – just wash, cut in half lengthwise and place on well-ventilated racks in full sun. Cover with netting to protect from insects. Turn daily. You can also dry in a dehydrator or an oven on low setting. Store in airtight containers in a cool, dry place.

Can I Freeze Fresh Figs?

Freezing is probably the easiest way to preserve fresh figs. Wash thoroughly and arrange whole ripe figs on a tray. When frozen, package in plastic bags. The fruit will usually keep for about three months. You can also slice or quarter the fruit and freeze in a sugar syrup. Figs frozen in syrup will last longer than those frozen whole.

French news

August, September and October are when figs come into full bloom.

France produces 4000 tonnes annually of the versatile fruit, which thrives in the Mediterranean region where 90% of global output is produced. There are around 700 named global fig varieties.

In France, Languedoc-Roussillon is noted for its fig production. The Figue de Solliès is the most widespread, accounting for 75% of the market. Other varieties include the Rouge de Bordeaux, the Sultane, the Marseillaise, the Noire de Caromb and the Goutte d’or.

The Figue de Solliès is an appellation d’origine contrôlée and an appellation d’origine protégée, classifications which recognise and protect regional specialities.

But French production pales in comparison to the world’s number one producer Turkey, which grows around 300,000 tonnes of figs annually.

Louis XIV was reportedly a big fan of the fruit, and planted 700 fig trees in his garden. It is believed the Greeks introduced the fruit to France.

Figs can accompany savoury or sweet dishes, have a low calorie count, and contain a good dose of dietary fibre and essential B vitamins. They can be turned into jam, included in tarts or alongside cheese, and can even be made into wine.

Several annual Fêtes de la Figue take place across France. In Solliès-Pont in the Var a fig festival will run from August 25 to 27, and in Le Mas D’Azil in the Ariège there will be a festival from September 30 to October 1.

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Figs are Ripening

Unripe green figs are smaller in size compared to ripe figs, erect on the stem, and firm to the touch.
LayLa Burgess, ©2018 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Yes, the time for figs to ripen has arrived. In most areas, the relatively mild winter months aided figs in producing a good crop of new shoots resulting in a bounty of small green fruit. Here in South Carolina, figs tend to ripen in August continuing into September depending on the variety. Those small green figs should be well on their way to gaining in size and maturing in color. Fig ripeness cues include sight, touch, and taste. By sight, ripe figs tend to droop while hanging on the tree or bush, have a larger distinguishable size than the immature green fruit, and with the exception of a few varieties have a change in color. By touch, ripe figs should be soft when gently squeezed. Unripe figs remain firm. By taste, ripe figs are sweet with a soft texture. Unripe figs lack sweetness and can be somewhat rubbery. It is important to keep in mind that not all figs will ripen at the same time.

Figs not ripening? Be patient, it can take figs up to two months from fruit formation to reach optimal ripeness. Fig plants have a long juvenile period before producing fruit, as long as 2 to 6 years from planting. So, time may be all that is required. Seasonal factors that influence the timing of fig formation and ripening are cold winter temperatures, fruit produced on new shoots because of severe winter die back, or late-maturing cultivars. Inadequate irrigation, low soil fertility, hot dry weather, or insufficient sunlight are all factors that can influence fruiting as well. Green figs will not ripen off the tree. Figs picked just before full ripeness will continue to soften and become sweeter if left in a dry location with a moderate temperature. For more information on growing and producing figs, see HGIC 1353, Fig.

As ripening begins, most figs become larger in size and change color.
LayLa Burgess, ©2018 HGIC, Clemson Extension

Ripe figs tend to droop downwards while hanging on the plant.
LayLa Burgess, ©2018 HGIC, Clemson Extension

After picking, wash fresh figs for immediate enjoyment or store for later use.
LayLa Burgess, ©2018 HGIC, Clemson Extension

What to do with unripe figs?

Figs don’t ripen much once they are picked, so they are not like a tomato in this. I find that if the fig is partially ripe, that they can be dried just fine. The flavor won’t be quite as intense as the truly ripe dried figs are, but they are still pretty good.
I don’t have any suggestions for the truly green figs, except are you sure the “green figs” aren’t figs waiting for next years early crop? Is your tree and ever bearing fig or a 2 crops a year tree
I have 2 fig trees, one an ever bearing fig, it sets fruit in late spring/early summer, starts bearing in mid July and keeps going until the weather gets cold and rainy. The other fig has 2 crops a year. The first crop in early July is the overwinter crop, these figs set their crop in September/October, with new figs popping out all over the tree. If the winter was mild some rather large figs and lots of small of figs will hang on this tree thru the cold and finally ripen in July. A cold winter can kill off a lot of my over winter crop, which is the draw back of this variety. The second crop is the fall crop which ripens in late September and can run well into October. The fall crop figs set their fruit in spring and summer, and this fruit is more prolific, but sometimes the weather turns wet and cold before they ripen.
I guess the thing to do is to figure out if the figs you have are just a little late to ripen this year, if so, then I’d try the recipe up the thread. I your figs are a long way from ripe, then leave them on the tree for next summer and hope for a mild winter.

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