31 May 2023

Did you buy figs for the first time and have no idea how best to store them or how long they last?

No problem, we’ve got you covered.

In this article, we will cover the following:

  • store figs: how to do it and if it is necessary to refrigerate them
  • Storage time: how long are figs good for
  • signs of deterioration: tell if yours are still ok to eat or not

In addition to fresh figs, I also cover dried figs if that’s what you have on hand.

fig in hand

fresh figs

How to store fresh figs

Store fresh figs in the refrigerator in a shallow container. This way, the fruits do not sit on top of each other, often resulting in bruised figs that spoil quickly.

Figs prefer cool temperatures between 32°F (or 0°C) to 36°F (or 2°C) ((CF)), so choose the coldest spot in your fridge.

TipInstead of a container, you can also use an egg carton to further separate the figs. Of course, such a cardboard box takes up much more space than a container. Everything has a cost.

If you’re storing cut figs (for example, you’re saving the other half as a snack for your child), use an airtight container.

Figs in an egg carton
Figs in an egg carton

As with all fresh fruits, wash figs just before eating or serving. This way, you don’t risk leaving extra moisture on your skin, which could accelerate deterioration.

Do fresh figs need to be refrigerated? No. If you are going to eat them the same day you bought them, you can leave them on the counter. But if you need more time, the fridge is a much better option.

Figs are known for their relatively short lifespan. That’s why most sources recommend tossing them in the fridge when you return from the farmer’s market or grocery store.

Speaking of shelf life, let’s talk about that in more detail.

bunch of figs
bunch of figs

How long do fresh figs keep?

Worktop Fridge
fresh, whole figs 12 days 5-7 days
fresh figs, sliced 3-4 days

Whole fresh figs usually last up to a week in the refrigerator or a day or two on the counter. Cut figs keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.

You can sometimes store whole figs for up to 2 weeks ((CF)), but that’s more of an exception than a rule.

Since figs are not refrigerated when you buy them, it’s important to choose the best ones available. This way, you’ll ensure that yours actually retains quality over the mentioned period instead of rapidly deteriorating after just a day or two in storage.

To choose the best figs, do the following:

  • Select plump figs that give a bit. The fruit should give a little to gentle pressure, but it shouldn’t be very mushy or mushy.
  • Make sure the figs don’t smell sour. Old figs ferment and give off a sour smell. If the ones you’re reviewing smell bad, don’t buy them.
  • Avoid breaks and bruises on the skin. Figs with skin defects will not retain quality for more than a couple of days.
TipIf the mentioned periods are not long enough for you, you can freeze figs or dry them.
Close up of figs
Close up of figs

How to know if a fresh fig is bad?

Discard figs that:

  • Smells. Figs stored for too long tend to ferment ((UCD)) and smell sour. If yours give off a sour or unpleasant aroma, it’s time for them to go.
  • They are soft, wrinkled (collapsed inward), or are oozing water. These are all symptoms of water loss and there isn’t much you can do right now.
  • The meat is dark (or even black) rather than red. This is why you should always cut old figs in half before eating them. Fortunately, these figs are often mushy or have a sour smell, so you usually don’t even need to open them to know they’re bad.
  • They have mold or begin to rot. Either means the fruit is no longer okay to eat.
Indoor Fermented Fig
Indoor Fermented Fig

If neither of these are present, that fig should be fine to eat. Cut it in half or quarters and enjoy.

Of course, there is also the question of quality.

For example, your fig may be a little soft or a little overripe (the skin is dark instead of greenish-purple). It is up to you if you are going to eat it or not. For me, as long as it looks good and tastes good, I eat it.

fig wrinkled skin
Wrinkled fig skin, probably won’t last more than a day or two

Dried figs

How to store dried figs

Dried figs need a cool, dry place. A pantry shelf or kitchen cabinet work well.

Once you open the bag or want to store the dried figs, transfer the fruits to an airtight container or freezer bag. This way, the figs will not dry out or harden.

Tip If you expect to eat the dried figs within a couple of weeks, you can get away with just wrapping the top of the bag or using a paper clip.

Do dried figs need to be refrigerated? Not really, but they do benefit from cooling in the warmer months.

If where you live in the summer is hot and humid, refrigerating the dried figs might be a good idea. Especially if you need them to last longer than a couple of months.

How long do dried figs keep?

Worktop Fridge
Dried figs, unopened or split open Best-by + 1-3 months Best-by + 3-6 months

Dried figs usually have a shelf life of 6 to 12 months from the date of packaging. Opening the bag doesn’t affect that period much, as long as you do a good job of storing the fruits.

Of course, the figs must retain good quality for at least a couple of months after that date. And even more so, if you refrigerate them.

Advice

The quality of dried figs depends on the storage conditions. A cool (even cold) place and an airtight seal can go a long way.

Please note that some sellers’ figs come with a slightly different set of guidelines. Here’s what California Figs ((CF)) has to say about it:

Dried figs can be stored at room temperature for up to 1 month. When stored in the refrigerator, figs will last 6 months to 1 year.

california figs

Those guidelines seem super safe, even a little too safe for my liking.

I don’t see why dried figs should lose quality after only a month at room temperature. Unless it’s a hot summer and you leave those figs out on the counter in the sunshine.

Do dried figs go bad?

Unless moisture reaches them, dried figs rarely go moldy. But that doesn’t mean they retain quality forever.

Like all nuts they dry out and harden over time, especially after opening the package. This is why, for example, granola doesn’t last forever.

At a certain point, the dried figs may be too hard for your taste or you may lack flavor. Either way, that’s when you throw them away.

One important thing to cover here is the presence of a white plaster (or white powder) on the surface.

That crystallized white substance is sugar rising to the surface, and those figs are perfectly fine to eat ((VF)). If anything, that shade of white is a sign that that fig was sweet and juicy.

Warning

Don’t mistake that white cast for mold. If the white stuff looks like tiny crystals or powder, that’s okay. But if it’s white fluff, it’s mold and you should throw the figs away. If you can’t tell, be more cautious.

If, for whatever reason, you want to remove that sugar coating, there are at least two ways to do it:

  • scrape it off with a knife
  • wash them with lukewarm water that will dissolve the sugar ((VF))

Sources

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