Once again my wife came home with figs from a co-worker. This time I had about ten pounds stuffed into two engorged shopping bags. Thinking it a genius idea, they went into the fridge where I hoped to gain more time before the inevitable mush set in. This action bought me two days instead of one.
Since I already made about a year’s supply of jam just days previous, I needed another quick way to use figs. Then it hit me. Why not dry them like an ancestor who never heard of electricity or it’s demon child the refrigerator. My trusted friend the World Wide Web gave me three ways to do it. Use a dehydrator, the sunshine or the oven.
Well I don’t own a dehydrator so that left good old nature or the oven. Unfortunately the sunshine also needed to be dry and I was in the heart of a sticky southern summer guaranteed to take those figs and rot them faster than the bugs could consume them. So I decided to try the oven.
According to the instructions I needed to slice them in half, place skin down on a rack and roast at 120-140 degrees for about ten hours or until wrinkled and dark. This created two new problems. One, I didn’t have any racks with rungs close enough together to keep the fig halves from falling through. Two, my oven only went down to 170 degrees. I fixed the racks by covering them in a sheet of screening left over from a door repair. As for the temperature, I just propped the door open with a wooden spoon wrapped in foil. Now I just had to wait.
Ten hours later the figs had somewhat shriveled and browned but were still a little juicy. So I closed the oven door. What could the harm be in a difference of 30 degrees? Well, according to my good friend the internet, this higher temperature could end up cooking the outsides without drying the inside. I decided to risk it since they had been drying for ten hours already. Two hours later the figs had achieved the proper wrinkles and color. After they cooled I discovered the flavor had slightly dissipated plus there was a loss of sweetness.
Next time I think I will borrow a dehydrator from a friend or buy one and return it after the job is done because, honestly, what do you really need a dehydrator for.