Figs are so delicate and go bad so easily that it becomes a reason for not enjoying this highly beneficial fruit. However, if you know how to store figs, both fresh and dried, it is not a concern anymore.
So how should you store figs? While fresh figs should be eaten immediately or preserved by drying or canning, dried figs are very easy to store. You should simply put them in an airtight container and store in the pantry.
Here is the ultimate guide for storing figs, whether you prefer the fresh fruit or the dried variety.
How Long Do Figs Last?
The shelf life of fresh figs is very short. The reason is that figs are harvested when they are all ripe, as once picked, they do not ripen.
The shelf life of fresh and dried figs can be extended if you know how to store them right.
It is recommended to buy fresh figs only if you know you will eat them or use them no later than a week.
The shelf life of fresh figs is 2 to 3 days if kept in room temperature and out of the sun. If you want the figs to last long, you can either refrigerate them or put them in the cold storage.
However, it should be noted that the fridge will not do much. You can keep refrigerated figs for 7 days at most.
Dried figs, on the other hand, do last a good amount of time, like any other dried fruit. When stored properly, dried figs can be kept at room temperature for up to a year.
How to Store Fresh Figs
Fresh figs need a lot of attention when it comes to storage as they go bad quickly and very easily.
If you are going to eat the figs within 2-3 days after you have bought them, keep the figs on a plate lined with a paper towel.
Make sure not to put the figs one over the other as they get easily smashed. Cover the figs with a plastic wrap and put the plate away from the sun or any heat.
Refrigerating Fresh Figs
If the figs have been kept in the room temperature for 2-3 days, it is time to put them in the refrigerator. You can keep the figs in the fridge for about a week.
It is important not to leave the figs out for more than 3 days. If so, you will notice a strong fermented smell which indicates that the figs are no longer edible.
Canning Fresh Figs
Canning figs is another method of preserving fresh figs. Here is how to do it:
- Sterilize jars in boiling water or dishwasher.
- Prepare the figs by washing them and removing the stems.
- Simmer the figs on low to medium heat and add 6-8 cups of sugar.
- Cook for around 3 hours and don’t forget to stir occasionally.
- Pour the figs in an already syrupy mixture into the jars and screw on the lids.
- Put the jars into boiling water for 30 minutes, then remove and tighten the lids.
Canned figs can be stored for 18 months. However, if you don’t hear the lids pop after immersing the jars into boiling water, do not keep them for long. Refrigerate and consume as soon as possible.
Freezing Fresh Figs
Freezing is a good method to extend the shelf life of figs.
To do so, thoroughly wash the figs, removing the stems and leaving out the overripe ones. Put the figs on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, leaving some space between the figs.
Put the figs in the cold storage for 3 to 4 hours. Then remove and put the figs in a sealable plastic bag. Remove as much air from the bag as possible.
Keep the figs in the freezer for up to 8 months.
Before you decide to eat frozen figs, make sure to thaw them first in the fridge, then on the counter.
How to Store Dried Figs
Storing dried figs is less of a hustle than storing fresh ones.
Whether you choose to store dried figs in the pantry, fridge or refrigerator, it is best to put them in an airtight container or a tightly sealed plastic bag.
Dried figs will last from 6 to 12 months in the pantry. It is important to keep them in a cooler area away from humidity.
The fridge life or dried figs is 1 year, while the freezer extends their shelf life to up to 18 months.
I seriously can’t get enough of these dried figs that I purchase on Amazon. If you store them in the fridge, the outsides will get hard, but I actually really enjoy them that way!
How to Dry Fresh Figs
If you have accidentally bought too many figs and wish you had bought them dried, don’t worry. It is an easy problem to solve as you can dry the figs yourself at home. And you don’t need much culinary experience for doing it.
If you have a food dehydrator at home, then drying figs is a matter of hours and following a few simple steps, such as cutting and putting them in the machine for 8 hours.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, but you want one, you can check out my wife’s favorite dehydrator by clicking here.
If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can choose one of these methods of drying figs at home.
Method 1: Drying in the oven
To dry fresh figs in the oven you need to thoroughly wash them, pat dry and divide the figs into two parts.
- Preheat the oven to 60 °C or turn on the fruit setting if your oven comes with one.
- Put the figs on the oven wire shelf with the cut part facing up. The figs should be kept in the oven for 36 hours. Within that time, you will need to turn the figs from one side to another to ensure that they are drying out evenly and no moisture is retained.
Do not increase the temperature of the oven to accelerate the process, as high temperatures may also result in unevenly dried figs.
Method 2: Drying in the sun
If you don’t want to mess with the oven, then you can go with the good old method of drying fruit in the sun.
To dry figs in the sun you need to wash them, dry them out and cut in halves or quarters.
- Cover a wire rack with cheesecloth and put the figs on top. Close with another layer of cheesecloth to protect the fig from insects.
- Figs should dry in the sun for around 3 days. Make sure they get direct sunlight. Don’t forget to alternate the sides to get the figs fully dry.
- Once all moisture in the figs is gone, they are ready to be stored.
Put the dried figs in an airtight container or a sealable plastic bag. You can store dried figs both in the fridge and in the cold storage. While dried figs can be kept for months and even a year, it is recommended to consume them as soon as possible.
The key to drying figs at home and storing is making sure that you have not left the slightest amount of moisture in the figs.
If you aren’t sure what method you want to use, read this article: The Difference Between Sun Drying and Dehydration
When storing figs, do not put them near other vegetables and fruits.
Figs, like many other foods, such as apples, bananas, and apricots, contain ethylene. The latter is a plant hormone. Figs release ethylene gas, which causes the softening and sprouting of other fruits and vegetables.
As if it is not enough that figs do not last more than a few days, they can cause deterioration of your other products if you store them all together.
If you are going to store figs in the fridge or the cold storage right away and not cook with them or eat, then it is essential to know how to select figs.
Buy figs that are slightly soft to touch and have smooth and undamaged skin. Figs that are in a good shape when bought are more likely to preserve well at home, no matter which storage method you choose to use.
The best tip one could give you about figs is eating them while you can. Figs are a very delicate fruit. However, they are delicious and have great nutritional value. Don’t let all the natural sugars, fiber, and minerals go to waste.
How Can You Tell If Figs Are Bad?
As figs ferment quite quickly once picked, the first thing that gives the spoiled figs away is the smell. If the figs smell sour, it is definitely time to toss them away.
Even if you have just brought them home from the market, they may have already gone bad if you have not maintained the right storage conditions. Leaving fresh figs under the sun is one way of making them go bad within a few hours.
Figs, like any other product that contains sugar, may develop a white cast. Don’t be alarmed by it. It happens once the natural sugar starts coming out to the surface.
As fresh figs contain moisture, the development of mold is also one reason why the figs may not be edible. If you cannot tell the difference between the sugar cast and the mold, do not risk it.
Dried figs don’t go bad as easily as fresh figs do. However, do not consume dried figs if they smell off-putting or have mold on them.