Even though they are enjoyed similarly to apples and oranges, figs are technically a flower with an intense sweetness that most fruits don’t compare to.
There is a very limited window in which figs are at their ripest – typically in the autumn. If you manage to pick figs at the perfect time, then you better use them quickly, as their high sugar levels mean they have a short shelf life.
Freezing your figs may be the perfect answer to preserving your favourite non-fruit to enjoy all year round!
To freeze figs, you can either freeze them in sugar or without. When freezing them without sugar, freeze them on a baking sheet until solid then, they can be bagged up and left in the freezer for around 8 months.
How to Freeze Figs
There are two primary methods you can use to freeze your figs. Both methods will affect the figs in slightly different ways, so choose the method that will best suit your needs later.
How to Freeze Figs Without Sugar
Before sugar became so widely available, figs were often used as a natural sweetener in traditional dishes. Figs are versatile in cooking methods, so they were an easy source of sweetness for any recipe.
Figs lose some sweetness when frozen, depending on how long they’ve been frozen. If you are not a fan of overly sweet figs or plan to use the figs in more savoury meals, then you can freeze them as they are:
It will be much harder to wash your figs once they are frozen, so do so before you freeze them by running the figs under hot water and drying them.
- Peel And Chop
Take some time to cut your figs into their desired size. You can also peel your figs at this point if you plan to use them as a jam or sauce later.
- Place On Baking Tray
The best way to ensure that figs don’t immediately become soggy while freezing is to flash-freeze them. Arrange the figs so that they are evenly spaced on a baking tray.
- Flash Freeze
Transfer the baking tray to your freezer and leave for a few hours or until the figs are thoroughly frozen.
- Move To Better Storage
Once the figs are frozen solid, you can move them to a more convenient freezer bag or storage container.
- Secure And Seal
Push all of the air out of your freezer bag and ensure that it is properly sealed shut. Or, if you are using a container, securely seal all sides of the container.
Place your figs into your freezer and leave them for up to 8 months.
For smoothies or sauces, you don’t have to defrost figs at all. Just throw them straight into a blender, and they are good. If you are making a dessert or something else, leave the figs to thaw in your fridge overnight.
How to Freeze Figs Using Sugar
Admittedly, freezing figs using sugar is not the ideal choice for everyone, especially those who already find figs to be overly sweet. However, sugar can help keep the fig’s natural colour more vibrant and better retain the fig’s flavour, which can otherwise be diluted once you defrost them.
Here is how to best freeze figs when using sugar:
- Prep The Figs
Remember to wash, dry, chop and peel your figs before prepping them.
- Cover In Sugar
Lay your figs out on a baking tray and cover them in a sprinkling of sugar. Use your hands to spread the sugar around the entirety of your figs.
- Leave To Sit
Allow 15 minutes for the figs to absorb the sugar.
- Add Lemon
Adding a little acid with a few drops of lemon juice will stop the figs from reacting to oxygen and help maintain the figs’ colour.
- Transfer To Container
Transfer the figs as well as the sugar syrup that may have formed into a freezer bag or air tight container. Use a spatula to save as much of the syrup as possible.
You do not need to flash freeze figs that are frozen in sugar so place the container directly into your freezer. You can freeze sugared figs for around 9 months.
Allow your sugar frozen figs to defrost for a few hours in your fridge. To prevent the figs being overly sweet, drain the sugar and syrup by running the figs under cold water before using them.
How to Freeze Figs Successfully
Once the figs are defrosted, they can be a tricky to include in a dish due to their change in texture. So here are a few tips to keep in mind when freezing your figs to ensure the best results:
- Chop Before Freezing – If you cut the figs into halves or quarters before you freeze them, you can pull them out of the freezer and use them in your dish immediately. Cutting the figs as they defrost can be very messy and time-consuming.
- Beware The Cooking Time – Thawed figs will not take as long to cook as fresh figs would as they will not need as long to soften. Remember when following a recipe that requires you to cook the figs as you are likely to overcook them.
- Properly Dry Your Figs – You should always wash your figs before you freeze them, but if your figs have an excess of water when you go to freeze them, they will develop a lot more ice crystals and turn extra mushy once defrosted.
Use some kitchen roll or a tea towel to ensure your figs are thoroughly dry.
Do Figs Freeze Well?
Though fresh figs are juicy and plump, the crystalizing process that happens when figs are frozen means that the figs lose their texture, turning mushy once defrosted.
So, while figs do freeze pretty well holding the figs’ flavour, frozen figs cannot substitute fresh figs in a recipe.
Freezing Figs FAQs
If you still have questions about figs and how to go about freezing them, check out these FAQs:
Yes, although dried figs have a lengthy shelf life, you can freeze them for around 18 months by popping them into a resealable freezer bag.
Although it is possible to freeze figs whole, you’ll need to wait for them to thaw before using them. If you do all the prep work beforehand, they’ll be ready to use much sooner.
Acacia may be a freelance writer by day, but they are a food fanatic by night. They are always trying out new recipes or finding different ways to elevate classical dishes. But their biggest culinary aim is to educate others on the basics of the kitchen so that they too can enjoy delicious food.