Can You Freeze Figs?
If you're a lover of figs, you know how short fig season is—blink and you'll miss it (summer to early fall, depending on the variety). You've probably also wondered, is there a way to prolong fig season? Can you freeze fresh figs? The answer is yes! Here's everything you need to know about freezing figs.
Related: What Is a Fig? Plus, How to Eat Figs
How Does Freezing Affect Figs?
Overall, figs freeze well. However, like many other fruits, once figs have been frozen, their texture will change from plump to mushy when thawed. This happens because the water inside figs expands into ice crystals during the freezing process, causing cell walls to break down. Due to this textural change, frozen figs cannot be substituted for fresh figs in certain dishes, but they are great for recipes like pies, muffins, ice creams and sauces.
Figs also change color when freezing, due to oxidation. This doesn't affect their taste, but if it bothers you, a little ascorbic acid or a squeeze of lemon juice will help prevent discoloration.
How to Prep Figs for Freezing
Choose figs that are fully ripe—plump but still give a little when touched—and toss any that are overripe—mushy and/or oozing—because those will not freeze well. Wash in cold water, dry thoroughly, and cut off the stems. If you want, cut each fig into halves or quarters. Cutting the figs into smaller pieces will make them easier to use in smoothies and also allows them to thaw faster.
Related: Health Benefits of Figs
How to Freeze Figs
Figs can be frozen with or without sugar. Both methods work well, but freezing them with sugar helps preserve their flavor and color a little better.
Method 1: Freeze without Sugar
To freeze without sugar, spread the prepped figs in a single layer on a baking sheet. Make sure the figs are not touching to avoid large clumps. To prevent discoloration, you can dissolve powdered ascorbic acid in a little water (use ¾ teaspoon ascorbic acid per 4 cups of figs) and sprinkle over the fresh figs. Alternatively, you can squeeze a little lemon juice over the fresh figs. Place the baking sheet in the freezer. Once the figs are completely frozen, transfer them to an airtight, freezer-safe bag or container with a label and date.
Method 2: Freeze with Sugar
There are two ways of freezing figs with sugar. The first is to sprinkle granulated sugar over the fresh figs. Let the figs macerate for about 15 minutes. Add powdered ascorbic acid (¾ teaspoon ascorbic acid per 4 cups of figs) or a generous squeeze of lemon juice to prevent the figs from oxidizing. Transfer the figs and the syrup that has formed into an airtight, freezer-safe container and place in the freezer with a label and date.
Method 3: Freeze in a Sugar Pack
The other method of freezing figs with sugar calls for a sugar pack, or simple syrup. To make the simple syrup, heat 1 part granulated sugar with 2 parts water in a saucepan. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and let the simple syrup cool. Use about 1 cup of simple syrup for every 4 cups of figs. Add ¾ teaspoon powdered ascorbic acid to every 4 cups of figs or use lemon juice to keep the figs from changing color. Transfer the figs and simple syrup to an airtight, freezer-safe container with a label and date.
When properly stored, frozen figs can last up to one year in the freezer.
How to Defrost Figs
To defrost your frozen figs, transfer them to the fridge and let them thaw overnight. After thawing, if your figs were frozen with sugar, stir the figs first and then drain the syrup before using.
Like many other fruits and vegetables, figs can easily be frozen and used in a variety of dishes. This year when fig season comes around, make sure to buy a few extra pounds to freeze and eat in the future. You can swap fresh for frozen figs in many recipes such as this one for easy Fig Bread and this one for delicious fig jam.
Related: 6 Common Myths About Freezing Foods