Figs are a great fruit to dry in your food dehydrator. In raw form, they are perishable, so should be refrigerated if kept for more than a few days. If refrigerated, they typically last for 5-7 days, depending on ripeness. To significantly extend the shelf life, I like to dry them in a dehydrator. Dried figs can last for up to a year if properly stored in a dry location that is cool and dark.
Figs have great nutritional value, making them an excellent snack when on the go. They are high in fiber and contain many healthy minerals and vitamins like magnesium, calcium, and potassium as well as vitamin B6. In dried form, they are nutrient-dense, with one dried fig containing nearly as much calcium as an egg. Read more about the nutritional value of figs.
Now that I’ve convinced you that drying figs is a great idea, let’s walk through how to do it with your food dehydrator.
Making dried figs in a dehydrator
What type of figs should I use?
There are many varieties of figs: Adriatic, Black Mission, Brown Turkey, Smyrna, Calimyrna, Kadota. Calimyrna figs are the same variety as Smyrna, just grown in California vs other areas.
Due to the short shelf life of fresh figs, all varieties are often dried. The best varieties for dehydrating are Black Mission, Calimyrna (or Smyrna), and Kadota. Calimyrna figs are the most popular due to the fact that they are readily available and quality of the seeds add a nice texture and flavor.
It is best to experiment to decide which ones you like the best. One thing to remember is to start with a good quality fresh fig because the drying process will enhance and bring out both its good and bad qualities.
Things you will need
- Fully ripe figs
- Large pot to boil water
- Ice bath
- Ascorbic acid (optional, to prevent browning) WellBodyNaturals powder is a great choice
- Food Dehydrator such as the Excalibur 5 tray
Step by Step Guide
- Start with fully ripe figs. Wash the figs and remove the stems.
- Prepare the figs by cutting them into uniform pieces approximately 1/4 inch thick. If the figs are smaller they can simply be cut in half or can be used whole as well. The size of the fig used is somewhat a personal preference, but thicker sizes will take longer dry in the dehydrator.
- If using sliced figs, combine 1 tsp of the ascorbic acid with 1/2 quart of water and stir thoroughly. This is enough to treat about 10 lbs of figs (5 quarts). You can adjust the quantity depending on your quantity of figs. Using the ascorbic acid is optional, but helps keep the fruit from browing. A good substitute for the ascorbic acid/water mix is equal parts lemon juice and water.
- If using whole figs, bring the pot of water to a rolling boil and also prepare the ice bath. Each fig should be first dipped in the boiling water for about 30 to 45 seconds, followed immediately by the ice bath. This process will help facilitate water evaporation from the figs during the dehydration process and also loosens the skin.
- If using sliced figs, instead of boiling, soak the sliced figs in the ascorbic acid and water mixture for 10 minutes.
- Arrange the figs on the dehydrator rack, using a single layer and leaving some space around them to promote airflow.
- Place the trays in the dehydrator and set it to 135 degrees.
- Dehydrate the figs for 12 – 24 hours. The time range required depends on several factors such as quality of the dehydrator and moisture content of the figs.
- Test the figs periodically (take one out and let it cool!). Ideally, they will be dry to the touch and have a leathery texture. The center should be chewy rather than mushy.
- When finished, remove figs from the dehydrator and let them cool completely before storage.
Storing Dried Figs
Remember to allow the figs to cool completely before packaging for storage. They should ideally be stored in airtight containers or heavy freezer bags. If stored in a cool dark location, the shelf life can be a year or more. For an on the go snack, divide them into portions and place in a small plastic bag for individual servings. Then store the bags in the larger container. This makes it easy to grab a bag and go.
Rehydrating Dried Figs
If cooking or baking with figs, you may want to rehydrate them to prevent them from absorbing water from the dish during the cooking process. It’s also a great way to salvage figs that have been stored for a long time and have further dried out. Start with a large enough bowl and boiling water to cover. Place the dried figs in the bowl and cover with the water. Let stand for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the figs are plump. Strain the water off and enjoy in your recipe.