Monday, July 2, 2012

Storing Figs

Our fig tree is starting to produce.  This is the first year we're really getting much of anything.  A friend also gave us a bunch of figs.  We have grand plans of making homemade fig newtons, fig jam and fig leather.  First though, we need to have a large enough batch of figs to work with.  When you are growing things on a small scale in the home garden, you'll never get around to canning much if you wait until you can harvest a large amount all in one day.  You need to save harvests over time without letting the food spoil. 

In the case of the figs, we will be putting some straight in the freezer (to use in recipes like jam and leather later on), and some will be dehydrated (to use for things like fig newtons).  I've never dehydrated figs before, so I decided to give that a try first.

When drying most whole fruits, you need to check the skins first.  That just means the skin needs to be cracked open so the moisture can escape.  Most books recommend dunking the fruit in boiling water for about a minute and then into ice water to stop the cooking process.  My figs weren't cracking open like I expected though, so I went ahead and cut a small "x" on the bottom of each one like we do for peaches.  I'm not sure if this is really necessary or if they would have cracked on their own if I'd just boiled them longer.  I didn't want to risk cooking them though.
You can see where the "x" I cut has split open more once they were boiled for a minute.
They all went onto the dehydrator together.  The larger figs are from our tree and they had already been drying for several hours.  The smaller figs are a different variety that I got from my friend.
After dehydrating overnight, we had a nice tray of dried figs! I think they might have been the messiest thing I've ever dehydrated, definitely left more sticky juice than other fruits.  Easy enough to clean, but a little bit surprising.
Dried fruit should be shelf stable for quite a while, but to prolong storage life, we usually still freeze things even after we dry them.  So, I bagged these up and threw them in the freezer.  Looking forward to trying out fig recipes in a couple of weeks!

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