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How to Tell if Figs Are Ripe

There’s no doubt about the sweet, delicious taste of a ripe fig. This luscious fruit, whether enjoyed fresh or used in delicious recipes, brings joy to the taste buds.

But how can you tell when a fig is ripe? With a few simple tips and techniques, you’ll soon be a fig-ripening expert.

A ripe fig cut in half with other whole figs in the background on a wooden table.

Identifying a ripe fig is a blend of art and science. By understanding fig varieties, recognizing physical signs and aromatic clues, you can savor the sweet delight of perfectly ripe figs. Enjoy the bounty of fig season with newfound confidence!

What Is A Fig?

A fig is a soft, sweet fruit that comes from the fig tree (Ficus carica). It’s known for its unique texture and rich flavor. They can be eaten fresh, dried, or used in cooking and baking.

They come in various colors and sizes, each with its own unique taste. The most common varieties include Mission figs, Kadota figs, and Calimyrna figs.

How To Tell If Figs Are Ripe


The color of a fig can give you a good indication of its ripeness. Depending on the variety, ripe figs often display a deep, rich color.

For instance, Mission figs turn a deep purple, Kadota figs brighten to a vibrant green, and Calimyrna figs take on a golden hue.


A ripe fig feels soft but not mushy to the touch. If you gently press the fruit with your thumb, it should yield slightly under pressure.

If the fig is hard, it’s not yet ripe. On the other hand, if it’s overly soft or mushy, it’s likely overripe.


The shape of a fig can also hint at its ripeness. As a fig ripens, it tends to hang down from the tree and take on a slightly droopy shape.

Whereas, unripe figs often remain upright or maintain a more rigid posture.


The aroma of a fig is another excellent indicator of its ripeness. Ripe figs often give off a sweet, slightly fruity aroma that is quite pleasant.

If the fig doesn’t have much of a scent, it may not be ripe. A sour smell, on the other hand, can indicate that the fig is overripe.

If you are interested in learning how to tell if other fruits are ripe, check out our guide on how to tell if peaches are ripe and how to tell if a papaya is ripe.

Fig Picking Tips

  1. Perfect Timing: The best time to pick figs is in the morning when the temperatures are cooler. This is when they are at their most succulent and juicy. Additionally, figs produce a natural sap – called latex – that can be an irritant to some. The sap flow is less in the morning, which makes it the best time to harvest the fruit.
  2. Gentle Handling: Figs are delicate and can easily bruise or rupture, so handle them with care. Avoid pulling or tugging the fruit from the branch. Instead, use a pair of clean, sharp garden shears or a knife to cut the fig at the stem. This way, you can minimize any damage to the fruit and the tree.
  3. Container Choice: Use a shallow container for collecting figs. Piling figs high in a deep basket can cause the ones at the bottom to bruise. Make sure to gently place each fig in the container to prevent any bruising.
  4. Checking the Ground: Another tip is to check the ground under the fig tree. Figs that have fallen and are in good condition are usually perfectly ripe and ready to eat.
  5. Regular Harvest: During the peak season, make sure to check your fig tree regularly. Figs can go from unripe to overripe quickly in hot weather, so regular harvest ensures you get them at their best.

Another great fruit to learn more about is guava! Check out our guide on how to tell if guava is ripe.

Fig Ripeness Guide

IndicatorRipe FigUnripe FigOverripe Fig
ColorDeepens/BrightensLighter colorBrownish, dull
FeelSoft, but not mushyHardVery soft, mushy
ShapeDroops downUprightWrinkled
SmellSweetMild or no smellSour

If you’re interested in learning about how to tell when fruits have gone bad, check out our comprehensive guide on spotting overripe and spoiled fruits. This knowledge will empower you to enjoy all kinds of fruits at their peak deliciousness!

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Tell If A Fig Is Ripe

Figs do not continue to ripen after they’ve been picked, unlike many other fruits. This is why it’s essential to harvest them at the peak of their ripeness.

Ripe figs are delicate and should be consumed within one to two days. If you’re not going to eat them right away, consider refrigerating them to extend their lifespan.

Place unripe figs in a paper bag with a ripe piece of fruit, such as an apple or banana. The ethylene gas released by the ripe fruit will help the figs to ripen.

A ripe fig has a sweet, rich flavor, with a soft and slightly chewy texture. It’s a perfect balance of sweetness and tanginess.


Identifying a ripe fig is a blend of art and science. By understanding fig varieties, and recognizing physical signs and aromatic clues, you can savor the sweet delight of perfectly ripe figs. Enjoy the bounty of fig season with newfound confidence!

For more on picking the best fruits, from apples to berries, don’t miss our complete guide to fruit ripeness.

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