When people think of figs, most times, they think of fresh fruit. Yet, there is a wide range of products that come from figs, including dried figs. Dried figs have been enjoyed for many years and have a unique taste of their own. Learning how to dry figs is a great way to preserve them so you can enjoy their taste long after fig season is over.
The drying process for figs is pretty straightforward. The first step is cleaning your figs, after which you can sort them to get rid of any undesirable figs, next cut and dry them using any method you prefer! Drying figs can be easy if you follow some simple guidelines. In this blog post, you will get all the information you need on drying figs right at your home.
How to Buy the Best Figs
The shelf life of fresh figs is very brief. They are best when harvested ripe because they won’t ripen once picked off the tree. Ripe figs will be the ones that have the perfect taste and texture that you ideally want.
When buying figs at the market, look for figs that have a soft but firm texture. If it’s mushy, the fig is already overripe, and it is best to pass over it. Also, skip over the figs that have broken skin. Instead, go for figs that have a nice shape and are dry and smooth without any bruises.
Your nose will also help you choose the correct figs. Ripe figs have a sweet and fragrant smell that helps distinguish them.
How to Dehydrate Figs
Drying Figs is an excellent way to prolong their shelf life. Drying figs allows you to enjoy your favorite fruit year-round, even in the dead of winter when they are out-of-season. In the sections below, you will find different methods that you can choose for drying your figs.
Drying Figs in the Sun
The first step before you start with the drying process is cleaning your figs. Transfer all your figs to a large bowl and fill it with some cold water. Let the figs soak in the water for a few minutes. Rub the figs with your fingers to ensure that any dirt and grime stuck on the figs comes loose. When all the figs are clean, drain out the water and rinse the figs once more in running water.
Let the washed figs air dry, or you can speed up the process by using paper towels or kitchen towels.
Now, you are ready to prep the figs for drying. Using a chef’s knife and a cutting board, cut all your figs in half.
Cover a wire rack or wooden rack with cheesecloth and lay down all your fig halves on it with the cut side facing up. Keep enough space between each half for the air to flow freely.
Once the figs are all placed on the rack, cover it with another cheesecloth and secure its ends to seal it shut.
This method works best when you have very dry heat. Place the figs in sunlight every day for 2 – 3 days. Remember to bring them in the evening every day; otherwise, there will be condensation on the figs when the temperature drops in the evenings, ruining them.
Move the figs around when you place them in sunlight every day; this will help them dry evenly. The figs are ready when they feel leathery from outside, and no juice oozes out when squeezed.
If you feel that the figs are still a little sticky, you can also finish them in the oven.
Drying Figs in the Oven
Start by thoroughly cleaning your figs in cold water and then dry them using paper towels or a kitchen towel.
Prepare the now dry figs by cutting them into smaller pieces. You can cut them into halves or even quarters. Use a sharp chef’s knife so that you can make clean cuts without the juice from the figs spilling out.
The trick to drying anything in the oven is to do it low and slow. Preheat your oven to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. In most cases, this is the lowest temperature setting that is available on home ovens. If the lowest temperature on your oven is higher than 140 degrees, preheat the oven using that temperature but leave the door partially open.
Lay all your cut figs on an oven-safe rack, with their skin side down. Leave enough space between every piece so that the hot air can blow easily between them.
Let the figs dry at the lowest possible temperature. It can take up to 10 hours for them to dry completely. Start checking the figs for their doneness around the 6-hour mark. If they are ready, remove the rack from the oven and let them cool down to room temperature.
Drying Figs in the Dehydrator
The dehydrator is one of the most efficient ways to dry figs. If you are searching for a dehydrator to invest in, consider the Excalibur dehydrator. Its ability to blow hot air evenly over all the racks makes it an excellent choice.
Prepare your figs by cleaning them using cold water and cutting them into halves or quarters.
If your dehydrator has a fruit setting, set the dehydrator to that setting or preheat it at 135 degrees Fahrenheit.
Place your figs evenly on the dehydrator trays skin-side down.
You will need to dehydrate the figs for 6 – 8 hours, depending upon your climate. Start checking the progress after the 6 – hour mark.
If your figs are ready, remove them from the dehydrator and let them cool down to room temperature.
How to Store Dried Figs
Dried figs will last in your pantry for up to 2 years if dried and stored correctly. But,
before moving on to storing the dried figs, you first need to be sure that they have dried completely. If you end up storing the figs while they are still warm, it will lead to condensation on your jars, resulting in mold. Once the figs are cool, you can start the conditioning process.
Fill the jars ⅔ full with the dried figs and close their lids.
Shake the jars every couple of hours for the first week or so to move the figs around. Doing this will allow any residual heat and moisture that may still be within the figs to be distributed throughout the jar.
In case of any condensation in the jars during this process would mean that the figs have not dried completely, and you need to dry the figs for some additional time.
If everything looks good at the end of the week, your figs are ready for long-term storage, and your jars can be filled fully as well.
Label and date your jars with the packaging date. Store the jars in your pantry or in a cool and dry place away from direct sunlight.
Dried figs are healthy, tasty, and easy to dehydrate at home. Drying figs makes it possible to enjoy your favorite fruit all year round. Dried figs are excellent in trail mixes, desserts, or baked goods. Given how simple and convenient it is to make dried figs, you should definitely give this preservation technique a try this summer! You can also check our complete guide on drying food here.
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