At the Fig’n Delicious orchard in Mangawhai there are 300 trees to harvest. Figs do not ripen off the tree so they have to be picked each day. Once picked, they stop producing the sugars that make them so sweet and delectable to eat. The pickers get out into the orchard early to create a presence to scare birds off. A fig should be cut with secateurs at the stem where it connects to the branch rather than torn by hand. This protects the soft outer layer of the fig from damage. It is important that trees are free of rotting and over ripe figs to keep the bees at bay. At Fig’n Delicious orchards there is a large group of ducks keen to clean up any dropped fruit.
Selecting a ripened fig is an art form and one that comes with experience. As a deepening and rosy colour or a sagging stem have not shown to be good indicators, it is more reliable to go by touch. The softness of the fig will tell the picker if the sugars are present. Splits may appear on a fig and are an indicator of maturation and a sign that they are bursting with sugars and ready to eat. A spongy feel indicates ripening has yet to occur and that fig should be left on the tree for the next day or two. Figs have a short shelf life and need to be kept in the refrigerator and eaten within 2-3 days of harvest.
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