How To Preserve Figs
In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “How to preserve figs?”, and discuss the different methods of preserving figs.
How To Preserve Figs?
You can preserve figs by canning, freezing, pickling, dehydrating, and even fermenting them. Thus, there are many ways of preserving figs so choose the ones that will benefit your family the most.
The season for fig is short and comes twice a year. It is seen most figs start to ferment within a day or two of picking (1).
How to preserve figs by Canning?
To preserve figs by canning, whole figs are canned in a heavy syrup, usually with a little lemon. These are also termed as southern preserved figs. The addition of warming spices such as cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger can add to a lot of flavors (1,2,3).
- For canning figs, wash and dry firm, un-cracked fruits with short stems and peels intact.
- Use light syrup (~20% sugar) for boiling and packing to preserve color and texture.
- Add 1/4 teaspoon citric acid or 1 Tablespoon bottled lemon juice for pint jars, and 1/2 teaspoon citric acid or 2 Tablespoons bottled lemon juice for quart jars to increase acidity.
Figs can also be used to make jams. To make fig jam we use the following steps (2):
- Mash the figs so taken from the market or garden (for more chunky jam, use chopped figs, nuts, and spices).
- Add sugar and lemon, and keep for cooking.
- Depending on how many figs are there, can the jam and refrigerate it.
How to preserve figs by Pickling?
Pickling figs can take a little longer than many of the other ways to preserve figs. Pickling figs is a two-day process (1,3).
On the first day,
- Figs are picked, washed, and boiled in vinegar brine with spices.
- Then these are kept in the refrigerator overnight.
On the second day,
- The fig mixture is removed from the refrigerator also alongside the spice bag..
- The figs should be reheated before filling the jars.
- The jars should be sealed properly and stored in a cool dark place.
How to preserve fig by Freezing?
Freezing the figs can be done with or without the peel, also dry or in syrup. To freeze the figs one has to (1,3,4,5):
- Cut the stem of the fig.
- Add 3/4 tsp ascorbic acid or lemon juice to the syrup (help the figs retain their color).
- Toss them into a freezer bag and put them in the freezer.
- These figs can be dehydrated later if required.
Frozen figs can be used for smoothies and “mock” ice cream. Mock ice cream is just frozen figs and bananas blended with just a little bit of milk until smooth. Berries can be added for berry ice cream. Or add chocolate simple syrup for a chocolate ice cream.
There are other ways to freeze figs. For instance (4,5):
- Cut the figs in half.
- Freeze them on a cookie sheet properly spread on the tray.
- Check if they are frozen.
- Once they’re frozen, transfer them to a freezer-safe container.
How to preserve figs by Dehydrating?
Dehydrating figs is one of the conventional methods of preserving figs. For dehydration of figs, they should be ripe before dehydrating (under-ripe figs tend to get sour if they’re dried) (1,8).
For dehydration, small figs can be left whole but they must be checked to have their skins so as to make them dehydrate faster (1,3,8).
Below given is how to check fig skins.
- Bring a pot of water to a proper boil.
- Fill another bowl with ice water for an ice bath.
- Dip whole figs into the boiling water for about 30 seconds.
- Remove the figs from the boiling water.
- Put the figs in the ice bath immediately.
- Once the figs cool down enough to handle, drain the water completely.
- Pat the figs dry with a clean paper or kitchen towel before dehydrating them.
Large figs should be cut in half – but their skins don’t need to be checked. It’s found to be easier to just cut all figs in half for dehydration. Figs can also be added to other fruit to make fruit leather.
How to preserve figs by Fermenting?
When intentionally fermenting figs, it is required to create an environment in which good bacteria can grow and bad bacteria cannot grow. It’s also known as Lacto-fermentation. This method of fermentation is completely safe (1,6).
Figs can be fermented whole or also as in spread. It is seen that because of their high sugar content, fermented figs don’t keep nearly as long as other fermented produce. So it is suggested that the fermented figs should be prepared in small batches for convenience in use and less spoilage and waste (7).
In this brief guide, we answered the question “How to preserve figs?”, and discussed the different methods of preserving figs.
1. Ahmad, J. et al. Review Article on; Traditional and Modern Techniques For Food Preservation. Int J Modern Agriculture, 2021, 10, 2021.
2. Preparing and Canning Jams and Jellies. Guide 7. USDA.
3. Resources for Home Preserving Figs. National Center for Home Food Preservation, 2023.
4. Silva, C.L.M. Home Freezing of Fruits and Vegetables. In book: Frozen food science and technology, 2008.
5. Andress, E.L. et al. Preserving food: Freezing fruits. University of Georgia Extension, 2019.
6. Montet, D., et al. Lactic Acid Fermentation of Vegetables and Fruits. 2014.
7. Wijayanti, E.D., Setiawan, N.C.K. The effect of lactic acid fermentation on fig (Ficus carica) fruit flavonoid. Journal of Biological Researches, 2017, 23(1):39-44.
8. Boyer, R., Huff, K. Using Dehydration to Preserve Fruits, Vegetables, and Meats. Virginia Cooperative Extension, 2018.