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How to Dry Figs in the Sun

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. Figs 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 sweeter 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).

Figs hung out to dry on a straw

Figs hung out to dry on a straw

Figs laid out to dry

Figs laid out to dry

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 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

  1. Leave the figs on the tree until they are ready to fall off the tree.
  2. Dip each fig in boiling salt water for 30 seconds and then let them dry in the kitchen on a clean tea towel.
  3. Use a straw or wooden barbecue stick 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.
  4. Hang up the straws or barbecue sticks in direct sun for a couple of days for the figs to dry.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Let the figs drip dry on a clean linen cloth and give them a few more hours in the sun.
  9. 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 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.
Fig leaf

Fig leaf

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