If you’re lucky enough to have a fig tree or if you’ve come across a good deal on fresh ones at the local market, here’s an easy way to preserve them by drying.
They make a very healthy snack and can be added to baked goods (such as cookies, muffins and cakes), in yogurt or cereals or eaten just by themselves.
- Preheat oven at the lowest temperature (140°F to 150°F).
- Choose fully ripe fruit and wash them to remove all dirt. Pat with a clean cotton cloth or paper towel to remove water. Remove stems.
- Cut in half (or quarters if they are large).
- Lay them skin side down on a rack or tray that will allow air to circulate around each piece. Place tray in the oven and let them dry slowly in the heat (keep the oven door propped open slightly to prevent the pieces from cooking–a temperature of approximately 120°F is optimal. An open door also helps moisture escape). Turn pieces occasionally during the process. It can take up to 36 hours for them to fully dry with this oven method.
Important: After drying, freeze the pieces for at least 4 or 5 days to kill off any contaminants.
If you’d like to try doing them outside in the sun, prepare as noted above then arrange on screens or racks that will allow the air to circulate around them. Lay the trays out in the sun and cover the racks with cheesecloth to protect the fruit from insects. Bring the trays in each night to avoid moisture. The process will take approximately three days when using this method.
- 3 pounds of fresh figs make approximately 1 pound dried.
- Storage: Keep in airtight containers or sealed plastic bags, refrigerate or freeze.
- Optional: Try brushing the dried fruit with a light coat of mild tasting honey before storing.
- This can also be done in a dehydrator, simply follow the directions that the manufacturer provided.
- You’ll know the pieces are fully dried when they are leathery looking with no pockets of moisture yet still soft inside–squeeze them and if no syrup oozes out they’re good.