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Harvesting Fig Trees

Are you ready to enjoy delicious homegrown fruit? Harvest is the time to enjoy the results of your hard work. Keep a few things in consideration as you reap the fruits of your labor: the best time to pick the fruit from your tree, and how to store the fruit.

NOTE: This is part 10 in a series of 10 articles. For a complete background on how to grow fig trees, we recommend starting from the beginning.

When to Harvest

Figs should be allowed to ripen fully on the tree. Fruit will be a brown/purple color when ripe. Microorganisms carried into the open eye of the fruit by insects will cause souring, so figs need to be picked as they ripen. Fresh figs will only keep in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

You may want to consider using gloves or wearing long sleeves when harvesting. Fig latex, exposed when the fruit is removed from the tree, can cause skin irritation.

Figs are ever-bearers and produce fruit on shoots that grow this year. Next year, they will produce the first crop of the season on wood that grew the previous year, and a second crop on the new seasons growth. In cooler areas, however, the second crop may not have enough time to ripen before cold weather.

Drying Figs

Figs may be dried in an oven or in the sun. In either case, choose fully ripe fruit to dry.

Oven Drying
  1. Remove stems
  2. Bring one-cup sugar and three cups water to a boil
  3. Add the figs and simmer 10 minutes
  4. Remove the figs and place them in a single layer on a drying rack
  5. Place in 115-120°F oven for 10-20 hours. Leave door cracked open to allow moisture to escape.
Sun Drying

When drying in the sun, leave the stems on.

  1. Wash well
  2. Cut figs in half to the stem
  3. Place cut side up on the drying rack & cover with cheesecloth or nylon net to keep insects off
  4. Put the rack in the sun on a table, on a car or on a roof. Bring in each day at sundown.

Figs should be dry after about 2 days. Figs are dry when the outside is firm & leathery but pliable and inside is soft with no sign of juice. Store in refrigerator or freezer in moisture proof bags.

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