How to know if figs are spoiled? (3 easy ways)

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “How to know if figs are spoiled”, and discuss the different methods of identifying spoiled figs, what is the shelf life of figs and how to store them. 

How to know if figs are spoiled?

There are few ways through which we can tell if the figs are spoiled or not. These methods are the same as we conduct while checking if the food is spoiled or not.

Mold:

Inspect the figs and see whether there is any kind of mold growing inside or not. If you see some kind of mold growing inside the figs, then throw those figs away and consume the healthy ones. Usually, mold doesn’t grow on figs when their sugars are crystallized. 

Alternaria tenuis causes Alternaria rot, symptoms are small, round, brown to black spots over the fruit surface. Aspergillus niger causes black mold rot, symptoms include dark or yellowish spots in the flesh with no external symptoms (1).

Smell:

If figs are smelling stinky then this means that they are spoiled. It is better not to consume such figs and throw them away. A distinct smell of figs means that they are no longer edible. So our sense of smell tells us a lot about food spoilage (2,3).

Color:

If you observe some abnormal color changes, then this may look like the figs are spoiled. If you see any greyish color or see some spots on the figs then it might be because of fungus. If you observe such color changes then it is advised not to consume it at all (3).

Insects:

If you see insects eating the figs then it is better to leave those figs to the insects and do not consume them at all. If you eat such figs then this can be dangerous for your health because if you eat such figs then there will be greater risks of having an infection (4).

What is the shelf life of figs?

The shelf life of fresh figs is around 2-5 days at room temperature. If figs are stored in the fridge they can last for about 2 weeks (5,6).

If dried figs are properly stored in a dry and clean place, then they may be in their best quality after 12 to 18 months. So after one and a half years, the nutritional value of the figs starts to deteriorate and hence they start to tend to lead to spoilage (7).

What affects the shelf life of figs?

Maturity: Figs that are fully ripe have a shorter shelf life than those that are just beginning to ripen (1). 

Temperature: Temperature is important because it can speed up ripening and microbial growth, which causes food to deteriorate more quickly (1,8). 

Moisture: Too much moisture can promote the growth of mold and lead to deterioration (8). 

Ethylene exposure: Figs and some other fruits naturally produce ethylene gas, which can hasten fruit ripening and shorten shelf life (1). 

How to store figs?

Figs can be stored in the refrigerator at -1 to 0 °C (30 to 32 °F) and humidity levels around 90 to 95%, to increase their shelf life (1).

You can also store figs in the freezer at -18 ºC and preserve their freshness and extend shelf life for about 12 months (9).

What happens if you eat spoiled figs?

Consuming spoiled figs can put your health at risk in a number of ways because they contain dangerous microorganisms and their byproducts. Pathogenic bacteria, molds, or yeasts that can result in foodborne illnesses like (10):

  • gastroenteritis
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • cramps 

Molds such as Alternaria tenuis and Aspergillus niger can also produce mycotoxins, which are poisonous substances that can lead to allergic reactions as well as other health problems (1,11). 

Conclusion:

In this brief guide, we answered the question “How to know if figs are spoiled”, and discussed the different methods of identifying spoiled figs, what is the shelf life of figs and how to store them.

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References

1.-

The Commercial Storage of Fruits, Vegetables, and Florist and Nursery Stocks. Agricultural Research Service Agriculture, Handbook Number 66, 2016.

2.-

Porat, R. Fallik. E. Production of off-flavours in fruit and vegetables under fermentative conditions. Fruit and Vegetable Flavour, 2008, 150-164.

3.-

Barth, M., et al. Microbiological Spoilage of Fruits and Vegetables. In: W.H. Sperber, M.P. Doyle (eds.), Compendium of the Microbiological Spoilage of Foods and Beverages, Food Microbiology and Food Safety, Springer, 2010.

4.-

Burks, C.S., Brandl, D.G. Quantitative Assessment of Insect Pest Damage to Figs. Plant Management Network, 2005.

5.-

Reyes-Avalos, M.C., et al. Improvement of the Quality and the Shelf Life of Figs (Ficus carica) Using an Alginate-Chitosan Edible Film. Food and Bioprocess Technology, 2016, 9(12). 

6.-

Taghavi, E., Sharifi, A., Anarjan, N., Lani, M.N. Fig (Ficus carica) Shelf Life. In: Ramadan, M.F. (eds) Fig (Ficus carica): Production, Processing, and Properties. Springer. 2023.

8.-

Qiu Y, Zhou Y, Chang Y, et al. The Effects of Ventilation, Humidity, and Temperature on Bacterial Growth and Bacterial Genera Distribution. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022;19(22).

9.-

Silva, C.L.M. Home Freezing of Fruits and Vegetables. In book: Frozen food science and technology, 2008.