Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Figs Galore!

It's that time of year the summer comes to an end and our fig tree is so laden down that the branches are dragging on the floor, we have begun the yearly ritual of collecting the figs to dry out in the sun. Now for those living in less sunny climates, I can see that it may seem like sacrilege to put fresh figs (priced at £2.99 for 4 in Waitrose!) out to dry but, believe me, we have so many we don't know what to do with them! This week we have eaten fresh figs, stuffed figs, baked figs, figs in wine, figs wrapped in ham, fig jam - you name it, we've eaten it! My Italian family tell me the problem is that as soon as it rains, the figs lose their sweetness and become watery and since the fantastic weather we've been having is forecast to change next week we need to get all the figs out to dry for as long as possible.

I also think there is something quite nice about drying fruit, it means that at Christmas time you still have a souvenir from the summer, something to keep you going through the winter. Anna and Giovanni prefer to dry their figs whole, although there are some who believe it is better to cut them in half. We usually stuff ours with almonds which I think really transforms them from just some uninspiring dried fruit to a real winter treat.

Here is Anna's method:

First of all, it is very important to have a good sort through the figs and try to identify any which have been inhabited by bugs - not always the easiest of tasks but well worth taking your time over in order to avoid a nasty surprise on Christmas day! Anna likes to get ours started by drying them for as long as possible in the sun but then finishes them off by cutting them in half, putting a whole almond inside and drying them in the oven for a good few hours at around 20C. It is also possible to put them straight in the oven without the sun drying but they will need about 12 hours to be fully dried. Be careful that your figs do not begin to cook. If they look like they're going that way, open your oven door and turn the heat down. Anna then lets the figs cool and stores them away for Christmas. Some more cautious cooks prefer to freeze the figs after baking in order to ensure that any bugs which slipped through the net are killed but Anna prefers to live on the wild side and take the risk!


  1. Hi Beth,
    I love your posts but tell does she store away the figs when she's not freezing them.
    I am picking figs next week, may have to try this technique.

    warm hug.

  2. Hi Lisa,

    She doesn't have any kind of special method, just puts them in a sealed tub with a bit of grease-proof paper in the bottom. If your figs are sufficiently dried they should store just fine like that.


  3. Beth, I learn something new with every post of yours. You are a great educator! (Yes, I am trying to work my way through all of your posts) I have always wanted a fig tree. I love figs eaten fresh and dried. I love them full stop!