Cooking At Home: Sun-Dried Figs

Now that I have a fig tree that just keeps on giving {during this time of year, that is} I've been hopping onto the web to find out ways to dry figs without actually having a dehydrator.  The problem seems to be that without a dehydrator one must use the oven and with the oven one must have an oven that goes as low as 170 degrees F, which of course as you know is rarely the case.  But the sites take this into consideration and suggest propping open the oven door during the duration of the drying process to lower temperature which of course takes many MANY hours.  I was beginning to think that drying figs would be great but actually doing it may be a huge problem and much too troublesome for me to actually try.  But after days of mulling it over in the back of my head I realized that I would just do it the old fashion way, sun-drying.  If drying figs in the oven would take many hours than surely I can stand a few more hours while these figs sun-dried naturally, plus I wouldn't have to be stuck around the house all day baking into a puddle of sweat as a result of a propped oven door.

I created my own little drying area for my figs, I know I know, it looks absolutely amateur, funny and not all too attractive but it does the trick.  I used my cooling baking rack to place the figs, as the baking racks have little feet it insures air flow all around the figs and not just on top {I'm no pro but I think this may be important}.  I used stray bricks to make a short wall, short because you want the figs to get as much sun as they can {shorter the wall, shorter the shade}.  Then I used a small window screen on top to shield the figs from bugs and birds and things while still allowing ample sunlight to pass through.

I check my fig tree every couple days for more figs to try and dry, I simply add them straight to the drying rack after being washed.  I put out the figs on the racks in the morning when the sun is out and take the rack with the drying figs when the sun goes down to protect them from the night time moisture.  I've been doing this for about a week now and I can see the figs drying, withering away into robust flavor dried figs.

The figs aren't nearly dry enough to be considered dried figs but I went ahead and ate one today anyway just so that you can see what it looks like on the inside.  the fig has only been drying for a week in the sun so it wasn't completely dried, it was absolutely delicious all the same, the skin was pretty dry and wrinkly, the inside was beginning to get real jammy and gooey, and tasted of fig jam too!  Hence you don't even have to wait for the figs to completely dry to eat them, I believe they'll taste wonderful at any stage.  A little bit of blue cheese and half-dried jammy figs on a cracker would be pretty tasty {just a little tip}.

A majority of the sites seem to say that the surest way to know your figs are fully ripe is if they fall from the tree.  If you've got a fig tree like mine where they just burst when they ripe and don't fall at all, pick the figs when they're just about to ripen and allow them to ripen fully on your kitchen counter, once ripe you can add them to the drying tray.

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