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 for future use by drying.
These make a very healthy snack and can be added to baked goods (such as cookies, muffins and cakes), in yogurt or cereals or eaten alone (I’ve included more ideas for use at the bottom of this page).
- Preheat oven at the lowest temperature (140°F to 150°F).
- Choose fully ripe fruit, wash to remove all dirt. Pat with a clean cotton cloth or paper towel to remove any moisture. Remove stems.
- Cut in half (or quarters if they are large). If they are less than 1.75″ wide, they can be done whole.
- Lay 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 slowly release their moisture 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 occasionally during the process.
- It can take up to 36 hours for them to fully dry with this oven method.
- You’ll know pieces are done 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.
- Package for storage once they have fully cooled.
Important: Once done, freeze them for at least 4 or 5 days to kill off any contaminants.
If you’d like to try doing this outside in the sun, prepare fruit 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 from insects. Bring the trays in each night to avoid collecting 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. Can also be kept in a cool, dark place if packaging is airtight. Watch for signs of moisture on inside of packaging…if so, refrigerate/freeze immediately to prevent mold.
- Optional: Try brushing the finished product 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.
- Once dehydrated, they should be good for at least a year…up to two years in some cases.
Neat To Know:
- Dried figs are an excellent source of dietary fiber and rich in minerals such as potassium, iron, magnesium and calcium. They reportedly also contain superior quality antioxidants.
- If they are too hard/dry to use, soak or poach to rehydrate.
- Easiest way to chop into pieces? Use a pair of kitchen scissors…less sticky & less fussy! Or you can pop them in the freezer for about an hour before slicing.
- If they develop crystallized sugar on the outside, they’re still safe to eat.
Suggestions For Use
- Enjoy as snacks as you would other dehydrated fruits.
- For Breakfast: Soak in hot water for a few minutes then chop and add to Greek Yogurt mixed with honey to taste (or maple syrup). Add some granola too if you like. Instead of yogurt do this with oatmeal.
- Sprinkle chopped bits over a toasted bagel spread with cream cheese.
- Fill a jar with the dried fruit then cover with brandy or bourbon. Add a strip of lemon or orange zest then refrigerate for 2 to 3 days. Serve the infused fruit on the side with a bit of ice cream for dessert.
- Add diced pieces to your baked goods: Muffins, carrot cake, breads, cookies. Pretty much any recipe that called for dates, dried prunes or apricots can be replaced with figs.
- Cheese Recommendations: Blue cheese, goat cheese, Feta and brie go nicely with them. Drizzle platter with honey or balsamic vinegar.
- For savory dishes, they pair well with pork & chicken.
- Dip them in chocolate for a sweet treat! Slit then stuff with almonds, dip halfway into melted semi-sweet chocolate then chill before serving.
- Delicious Appetizer: Slit then fill with ricotta cheese, top with toasted walnut halves then drizzle with honey before serving.