Can You Freeze Figs?

Can you freeze figs? Fresh figs are delicious atop salads, with a slice of cheese or eaten plain, but what do you do when you’ve got too many figs to eat? Because of their high sugar content, figs ripen and can spoil rather quickly.

If you’re reading this, there’s a chance you have more figs than you can eat before they over ripen. Maybe you grabbed a bunch of figs on sale at the supermarket or couldn’t resist the call of ripe figs at the farmer’s market. Or perhaps you have a very productive fig tree in your front yard,

How do you store these delicious fruits so you can enjoy them long after the growing season? While figs are most versatile fresh, they can be frozen for long term storage. Freezing figs is actually quite simple. There are, too, some tips for those looking for a slightly more advanced project.

Freshly Ripened Figs
Image used under Creative Commons from Iqbal Osman

How Freezing Affects Figs

Keep in mind that frozen figs cannot be used in the same dishes as fresh ones, as the texture will change. During freezing, water in the fruit expands and forms ice crystals, which breaks down the cell walls of the fruit. This leads to soggy fruit once thawed. For the most part, thawed figs cannot be utilized in the same dishes as fresh figs, due to their texture. Previously frozen figs do not make a very good salad topper!

Though freezing figs does limit the ways in which they can be used, there are many applications for this frozen fruit. Frozen figs make a fabulous addition to baked goods, like breads or muffins, where the fruit is simply stirred into a batter, or used in a filling. They can also be used in smoothies, homemade ice creams, jams and other preserves, and fruit sauces. In fact, using previously frozen figs in these types of recipes can even speed up the cooking process, as the cell walls have already been broken down.

How to Freeze Figs

Freezing fresh figs is a simple process, but it’s important to keep a few things in mind. Cutting figs into quarters before freezing them enables a faster thawing time than leaving them whole. Quartering will also allow you to use them in smoothies and ice creams without putting too much stress on your blender. You should wash figs before freezing and peel of the skin if desired. If your final goal is a jam or sauce, you may want to peel your figs before freezing.

To avoid figs clumping together, first lay the fresh fig quarters on a baking sheet in a single layer, with enough space so that the figs are not touching. Then push the baking sheet to the freezer until figs free. Once done, you can transfer frozen figs to either a freezer bag, or sealed storage container.

Sugar Pack Figs

Figs can also be covered in a sugar syrup (called a “sugar pack”) before freezing. That will produce a better flavor and texture. To use figs frozen in a sugar pack, thaw and drain the syrup from the figs before using them in a recipe. You can save the syrup for future use.

A simpler method for packing the fruit in sugar is to sprinkle sugar on the fig pieces. Coat them well, and mix until the sugar draws enough moisture out of the figs to form a syrup. Let the fig and sugar mixture sit for 15 minutes before sealing and placing in the freezer.

Figs tend to darken during freezing due to air contact. If you care about, coat the fig pieces in powdered ascorbic acid (¾ tsp per quart of fruit). Ascorbic acid is vitamin C, so no worries. Half cup of lemon juice per quart of fruit, added to the syrup before covering the figs, will also help to preserve the figs’ color. You can store frozen figs up to a year, until you’re ready to freeze the next batch!