Available mostly during summer, figs are delicious, chewy, and easy to use in sweet and savory dishes. They can be incorporated into salads, cheese platters, pizza toppings, baked cookies, jams, sauces, or just eaten as a snack.
By drying figs you can prolong their shelf life and enjoy them throughout the entire year. This means you can make use of in-season specials and get the best quality as well. Follow this guide to dry your own figs at home.
Types of Figs
There are a large variety of figs grown worldwide. The following 5 types are most commonly available at supermarkets.
- Brown Turkey Figs
These figs have a brown and purple exterior with a light pink flesh. They are not overly sweet and that makes them a good choice for salads, or desserts that are already sweet.
- Black Mission Figs
Black Mission figs look similar to Brown Turkey figs with dark purple skin. They are very sweet and have a beautiful bright pink fleshy interior.
Calimyrna figs are larger with green and slightly golden skin. Their pink interiors make them ideal for garnishing salads, fruit platters, and cheese platters. They have a unique nutty taste.
Kadota figs have light green skin with a pale interior. These figs are not very sweet which makes them perfect to use in salads, pizza toppings, jam, and preserves.
- Adriatic Figs
Adriatic figs can be pale green or yellow. They are sometimes referred to as ‘candy-striped figs’ since the skin forms green-and-white striped patterns. Ideal for dessert, the bright pink juicy interior is very sweet.
Can Figs be Dried?
Figs can be dried in the oven, food dehydrator, or outside in the sun. Drying them naturally in the sun can be tricky due to weather changes, humidity, evening dew, bugs, birds, and dust. If you have a food dehydrator, it is best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to go about drying the figs. The best way to dry them without a food dehydrator is to use an oven.
The better the quality of the figs before drying, the better they will be once dehydrated. If the figs have started going off, throw them away and don’t use them.
Besides drying figs in the sun, here are other ways you can follow:
How to Dry Figs in Oven
Step 1: Clean
Wash the figs in cold water. Dry them well with a paper towel to remove all excess moisture. Cut the stems off.
Step 2: Prepare and Cut
Preheat the oven to 140°F (60°C). It is necessary to use a very low temperature otherwise the fruits will cook instead of drying out. When cooked they will become soft, juicy, and caramelized and won’t last more than a week.
If your oven doesn’t heat to such a low temperature, set it at its lowest temperature and keep the door propped open.
Cut the figs lengthwise from stem to base in halves or quarters. Place them on an oven rack. You can also place a cooling rack on a baking sheet as long as there is good, even ventilation around the top and bottom of the figs allowing them to dry evenly. The figs should be placed with the cut side facing upwards. Using a regular baking sheet will result in uneven drying.
Step 3: Bake
Place the figs in the oven for approximately 36 hours. Turn them every couple of hours and keep the door slightly propped open to allow steam to escape. If you do not want to leave the oven running continuously you can switch it off halfway. Leave the figs inside and switch it back on after some time. Note that switching the oven off may prolong the drying time.
Step 4: Cool
When the figs are completely dried out, they will be leathery and shriveled on the outside and dry without any juices when split open. Remove them from the oven. Leave the figs to cool down to room temperature.
Step 5: Store
Once cooled completely, pack them in airtight containers or good quality resealable bags. The dried figs are best kept in the refrigerator or freezer.
How to Dry Figs in a Food Dehydrator
Prepare the figs in the same way as you would for oven drying and lay them out on the dehydrator rack with the cut side facing upwards. Turn the dehydrator to the ‘fruit’ setting, or 135°F. The figs will take 8 to 12 hours to dry. It is best to consult the manufacturer’s guide for specific guidelines for your device.
How to Use Dried Figs
Dried figs can be eaten as a snack on their own. They can also be chopped up and used in recipes such as cakes, muffins, cookies, or scones. They can be simmered in water or juice to constitute their plumpness and turned into sauces or toppings for ice cream, yogurt, and dessert. Dried figs can be used as a substitute for prunes, dried apricots, and dates in almost any recipe.
Since fresh figs don’t have a very long shelf-life, drying them is a great way to preserve them long-term. Make sure the figs are fully dried and completely cooled down before packing. Any excess moisture will result in mold growing quickly and spoiling your efforts.
Add dried figs to lunch boxes, cookie batters, or cook them into sauces and enjoy these sweet fruits even when they’re not in season.
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*image by bhofack2/depositphotos