Fresh or Dried Figs- Which Are Better?

by Michele Pesula Kuegler | March 18th, 2023 | Cooking Basics
fresh or dried fig

This week I have been focused on all things fig, which begs the question “What is better – fresh or dried figs?”

The answer is neither. Or maybe it is both. There are reasons for each of these, so let’s dig in and see what makes each special.

Fresh figs are amazing, at least in my opinion. However, like many highly valued foods, they are delicate and highly perishable. Once you have bought or picked fresh figs, you need to eat them in the next few days. I have found that they begin to deteriorate rather quickly. You can refrigerate them, but it will add only a couple days to their life.

You may wonder why one would bother with such a fragile fruit? The answer is simple; they’re quite unlike most other fruits. The fruit is incredibly tender and flavorful, wrapped in a skin that is thin and edible. They have a floral note to their taste and aroma and are truly delightful eaten as is.

Dried figs are much hardier. A container of dried figs can last for months without any issue. As opposed to fresh figs, their texture is much denser and chewier. Neither of those are bad qualities. It is just a whole different sensation when eating. Dried figs also are much sweeter, as the absence of liquid intensifies the sugar content in the fruit.

For simple eating, each of these has its own merits. When it comes to cooking, that is when you need to discriminate between the two. Fresh figs, being much more fragile, need to be cooked as such. Simply topping them with some goat cheese or baking for a few minutes are excellent options for fresh figs. Dried figs, on the other hand, allow for more techniques. Chop them up and add them to a cookie, braise them in wine and serve them on bruschetta, pulverize them and use them as a sweetener in a quick bread.

If you are thinking about using figs in your cooking, think about the structure and flavors of dried and fresh. Then, let your cooking common sense guide you to the right answer!

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