Can You Eat Unripe Figs?

“Can you eat unripe figs?”, is the topic of this article. The scientific name of a fig tree is Ficus carica.

Learning about if you can eat unripe figs will be the main topic of this article. You can eat unripe figs if you are not allergic to the enzyme, Ficin, found in the stem and flesh. Eating unripe figs may cause allergic reactions due to the enzymes within the fig flesh and stem. However, some people are not bothered by the ficin within the fig’s branch. Therefore they do not experience any of the tingling or other allergic reactions often experienced by those with the allergy.

When you dehydrate or boil the unripe figs, some ficin becomes inactive, and there will be less of an allergic reaction.

Green figs on a tree - pinterest pin - can you eat unripe figs?

Can you eat unripe figs and are unripe figs poisonous?

Although figs are not poisonous when unripe, this does not mean they are safe to eat. Figs contain ficin (ficain). Ficin is similar to other proteolytic enzymes found in fruits, such as papain in papaya and bromelain in pineapple.

Eating an unripe fig can cause allergic reactions in some people. The enzymes in the leaves, stems and unripe flesh of the fig cause the reactions when the body comes into contact with them.

The next issue is whether or not these enzymes remain active once the fig has ripened. These enzymes are similar to those produced from papaya latex and pineapple stem bromelase (bromelain) extracted from pineapple stem. When the fig matures, the proteins lose their activity, leaving no cause for adverse effects when eaten by humans.

What’s that white stuff on fresh figs?

The white stuff on fresh figs, especially the young green branches of unripe figs, is latex. Plants use latex to defend themselves against herbivores and insects, and it is a natural defense mechanism that allows you to grow the plant without using heavy pesticides.

Many flowering plants produce a milky fluid called latex. After you cut a plant stem, you will usually see the latex seep out. Some people think that latex is plant sap, but this is where they are wrong. Latex is not sap; plant sap circulates throughout the plant within the xylem and phloem. The xylem and phloem are the circulatory systems of the plants responsible for nutrients and water delivery to the plant tissues. Latex does not travel through the xylem and phloem. Instead, it travels within unique vessels inside of the plants, flesh, leaves, and stems.

What to do with unripe figs?

Can you eat unripe figs? Yes, you can make a jam or preserves with unripe figs. Remember to wear gloves when handling the unripe figs. The milky white latex will be all over your kitchen knives and hands when preparing unripe figs. Another thing you can do with the unripe figs is to boil them whole with sugar, lemons, water, and vanilla. Then you can transfer them to mason jars using a sterile canning method. You can also dehydrate some semi-unripe figs, then just rehydrate the dried figs for recipes.

Green unripe figs. Can you eat unripe figs?
A fig tree with green figs and green leaves. Can you eat unripe figs?

Should figs be refrigerated?

Refrigerating figs will prolong their shelf life. However, if you freeze fresh figs, you can use them for baking at a later date. When you buy fresh figs at the grocery store, they are usually as ripe as they are going to get. It is a good idea to gulp your figs after purchasing them while putting some of them in the refrigerator, and doing so will help your figs last longer.

Should you remove unripe figs from the tree?

Yes, otherwise, they will start to mold and grow fungus. If you don’t remove the unripe figs, the fungus will then grow onto the branches and cause them to wilt and become sick. Do not let the moldy unripe figs cause your entire fig tree to get covered with mold and fungus. Taking care of a fig tree the proper way takes a lot of time and effort. It is not one of those plants that you can just leave alone. You must put a lot of maintenance work into your fig tree to keep it healthy.

Is fig wood safe to burn?

Yes, it is safe to burn fig wood. There are even many restaurants around the world that use fig wood in their wood-fired pizza ovens. The Mercer Kitchen in SOHO NYC uses fig wood in their pizza oven, and their chef says that it gives a unique flavor to the dough.

What month are figs ripe?

In most US climates, a fig tree will bear fruit in June and then again in September. If it is a good-producing tree, you will be able to collect the ripe figs for months. Some climates do not support growing fig trees as well as others. In some Mediterranean or warmer temperatures, you may even get a fig tree to bear fruit year-round.

The figs that develop from the first crop in early summer stem from last year’s shoot growth. The second harvest of figs, which is the main crop, produces on the current shoot growth.

Harvesting figs begins when you can easily remove the fruit from the tree. If you want to make sure you are getting only the sweetest figs, then only pick the overly ripe ones.

How do you clean fig latex off of your hands?

Firstly it will not be easy to remove. The fig latex will stick on your hands, knife, pots, and anything else it comes into contact with. Even after you scrub your cookware, you may still see the latex smeared on the sides. Don’t let it ruin your ceramic or stainless steel cookware

If you need to get fig latex off of your hands, then use soap, hot water, and baking soda. After scrubbing for 5 minutes and you still see/feel the fig latex on your hands, use ammonia, hot water, and baking soda. It should come right off. You can also use this mixture on your kitchen utensils as well.

For this reason, It’s best to wear rubber gloves when handling unripe figs.

Is the fig tree poisonous to humans?

A fig tree contains significant quantities of two furanocoumarins; you can find them in many plants and fruits. Furanocoumarins will cause skin inflammation and dermatitis in some people. When you harvest unripe figs from a Ficus tree, the white latex will get all over your hands and cause an allergic reaction which can feel like tingling.

The positive aspect of furanocoumarins and figs is that they are found in the fig tree’s leaves and stems instead of the fruit. Unlike grapefruits, where the fruit is full of furanocoumarins. These furanocoumarins in grapefruit block an enzyme produced in the liver, responsible for breaking down medications and alcohol. You can read about it here.

Why do fig trees produce latex?

Figs produce latex as a defense mechanism to protect themselves against predators. If a fig tree does not produce latex, numerous animals will consume it. Since it has waxy latex, deer will usually stay away from fig trees.

Are fig trees deer resistant?

Figs trees are mostly deer resistant because they will usually not want to eat the waxy latex-filled leaves and branches. Keep in mind that deer are opportunistic grazers. If there are no other crops available for them to graze on, they will go after your fig trees. It’s good news that they won’t eat an entire tree, but they will eat some of the ripe figs if other food sources are scarce.  If there are no pecan, apple, or blueberry trees, a fig tree might be the last choice.

Can you eat fig skin?

Yes, fig skin is safe to eat. Figs are best when you pick them straight off of the tree. If you are lucky enough to live near a fig tree, then you know what I mean. There is nothing like a ripe sun-kissed fig. The entire fig is edible, aside from the stem. It is best not to eat a fig stem due to the latex that can cause an allergic reaction.

An early-season fig usually has thinner, more delicate skin, whereas the late-season fig may have more rigid, thicker skin. Both types of fig can are safe to eat; they are pretty healthy.


Can you eat unripe figs? Yes, unripe figs are a delicacy in some countries, but they are not for everyone. Most people prefer only to eat ripe figs.  Unripe figs may be available year-round if your climate supports fig tree growth! However, there is also the possibility that if your environment does not allow for this kind of growth, then you will have to wait until late summer or early fall when unripened figs become available again.

Pairing figs with cheese is a great way to use up your unripe figs.

Just remember when you are wondering “Can you eat unripe figs?” that It’s important to remember picking and handling them without gloves can introduce latex which causes dermatitis in some people–so wear rubber gloves while harvesting these delicious fruits so as not to get any fig latex on your skin.