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Lots of Figs, Give 'Em a Dry

August 24, 1995|SYLVIA THOMPSON

To dry figs, leave the fruit on the tree until fully ripe but not mushy. Wash and cut away imperfections. Leave small to medium figs whole; cut large fruit lengthwise in half. Use a double layer of cheesecloth to line the bottom of boxes well ventilated with holes or to cover cake racks or sheets of screening.

Arrange the fruit so that edges aren't touching and set the trays in full sun off the ground. Cover with tulle netting, tightly tucking the netting underneath to keep out insects. If the night air is dry and temperatures don't drop more than 20 degrees below the noontime temperature, leave the racks outdoors overnight. Otherwise bring them in. If the figs must stay indoors (should the sun disappear), check occasionally for mold and discard moldy pieces.

Turn the figs in the sun each morning. When the pieces are much reduced in size and skins are leathery, cut one open. If the inside is slightly sticky, the figs are done. Bring indoors and cool. Pack in glass jars, cover tightly and keep in a dark place at room temperature for one week, shaking the jars occasionally. This curing allows excess moisture in some pieces to be absorbed by drier pieces. Repack in heavy plastic food storage bags, forcing out air, and store as desired six to 12 months. In the freezer, dried figs keep two years.

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