Fresh Figs Spoil Quickly
The fresh fig is pear-shaped and can be up to 8 cm high. The ripe fig can be both yellow-green or black-purple depending on the variety.
The skin has a faint glow from the fruit sugar that is pulled out through the skin from within and acts as a preservative in the fruit. Fig contain large quantities of fruit sugar. But a large water content makes the taste of fresh figs quite different from that of dried figs. Green figs have a mild, acidic taste, while the dark varieties are more sweet in flavor.
But as lovely as they are, freshly picked figs have a short shelf life, so it's a good idea to know what you want to use them for before you pick them. They only keep for a few days in the refrigerator.
Of course, you can eat figs straight from the tree, but you can also make them into various products such as fig compote, fig chutney or naturally dried figs (the focus on this article).
How to Make Sun-Dried Figs
For centuries, the tradition of drying fruit in the sun has been a way of preserving food for the long, cold winter, and it is still common practice in the Mediterranean countries.
There are many different ways of drying figs, but doing so in the sun is one of the simplest.
This Is How I Do It:
- Leave the figs on the tree until they are ready to fall off the tree.
- Dip each fig in boiling salt water for 30 seconds and then let them dry in the kitchen on a clean tea towel.
- Use a straw or wooden barbecue sticks to skewer 5–6 figs each. If you can't live with the insects that will be attracted by the figs, use a Food Pantry Hanging Dehydrator/Dryer.
- Hang up the straws or barbecue sticks in direct sun for a couple of days for the figs to dry.
- You don't want your figs to go hard, so after a few days, move the figs from the sun to half shadow for approximately 8 days.
- The point of drying the figs in the sun is to remove water from the fruit to inhibit the growth of microorganisms. So be sure to take the figs in at night to avoid them becoming rehydrated with the morning's dew.
- If the figs are not flat enough when they are finished drying, and if they are too hard to just press flat, dip them in boiling salt water again. That way you slightly bleed up the figs, so you can press them gently into shape.
- Let the figs drip dry on a clean linen cloth and give them a few more hours in the sun.
- To prevent mold, make sure they are absolutely dry before you put them away.
How to Store Dried Figs:
Keep the figs in an air-tight container. (Air will make the figs go hard as stone.) The right temperature is below 68˚F (20˚C). Under the right conditions, dried fruit will store for 12 months.
Now you can serve sun-dried figs for Christmas.
Did You Know?
- The fruit sugar in figs provides energy without fat.
- Both fresh and dry figs have a high content of pro-vitamin A and several minerals: phosphorus, iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium.
Drying Figs in the Oven
Health Benefits of Figs
Drying Food Resources
- Drying (food) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Drying is a method of food preservation that works by removing water from the food, which inhibits the growth of microorganisms and hinders quality decay. Drying food using sun and wind to prevent spoilage has been practised since ancient times.
- National Center for Home Food Preservation | How Do I? Dry
To dry fruits out-of-doors hot, dry, breezy days are best. A minimum temperature of 85F is needed with higher temperatures being better. It takes several days to dry foods out-of-doors.
A Biblical Leaf
According to the Old Testament, Adam and Eve covered themselves with fig leaves after the fall from grace. This tells us that the fig tree, Ficus carica, and its fruits go back a long way.
Wild figs derived from Afghanistan and West Asia. From there, fig trees spread to the subtropical areas around the Mediterranean. The fig tree was brought to Spain and Portugal by the Arabs around 700–800 AD.
Personally, I have loved dried figs since my Danish childhood. It simply wasn't Christmas without marzipan, clementines, nuts and dried figs!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2010 Dorte Holm Jensen
Dorte Holm Jensen (author) from Torrox, Malaga. Spain on August 23, 2019:
Sorry if the videos have loud music on them.
The videoes are just extra and I blankly admit that I haven't chekked them for a long time, as it has been ages since I was on Hubpages - in fact I don't even know if they change randomly.
Changing videos is going on my to-do-list!
Fred on August 15, 2019:
it would have been nice to hear your instructions but with that loud and unnecessary music it was impossible
Dorte Holm Jensen (author) from Torrox, Malaga. Spain on May 21, 2019:
For Cristina and Joerg:
Salt is a natural preservative. The main effect of salt is that it kills microorganisms. Spores are not killed, but they can't germinate.
Cristina Cakes from Virginia on May 20, 2019:
A helpful article for someone like me who just bought a home with several fig trees and has no experience whatsoever with figs or what to use them for!
Joerg on August 28, 2017:
Hi, i've looked at a number of other drying recipes for figs and yiurs is the only one that poaches them in saltwater. I'm just curious, what does the salt do?
kenny on August 21, 2017:
Why do i get maggots in my died figs during the drying period also how long should you leave them in full sun sun at the moment around 30c
Dorte Holm Jensen (author) from Torrox, Malaga. Spain on June 29, 2017:
I don't have any experience sundrying figs in a tropical climate. However I think you are right, the humidity would be too high.
Let's see if anybody out there has any experience with sundrying in the tropics or if they use a dehydrator....
Michael on June 20, 2017:
Thanks for this article. I'm wondering if this works in the tropics since the humidity is so high (above 60%).