How To Store Figs and How Long Do They Last?

Bought figs for the very first time and have no idea what’s the best way to store them or how long they last?

No problem, we’ve got you covered.

In this article, we’re going to cover the following:

  • storing figs: how to go about it, and if refrigerating them is necessary
  • storage time: how long figs are good for
  • signs of spoilage: telling if yours are still okay to eat or not

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

Jump straight to the section you’re interested in:

Fig in hand

Fresh Figs

How To Store Fresh Figs

Store fresh figs in the fridge in a shallow container. This way, the fruits don’t sit one over the other, which often results in bruised figs that quickly go bad.

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

Tip

Instead of a container, you can also use an egg carton to separate figs even further. Of course, such a carton takes much more space than a container. Everything comes at a cost.

If you’re storing cut figs (e.g., 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

Like with all fresh fruit, wash figs right before eating or serving. This way, you don’t risk leaving extra moisture on their skin, which might speed up spoilage.

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

Figs are known for their relatively short shelf life. That’s why most sources recommend tossing them in the refrigerator when you get back 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 Last?

CounterFridge
Fresh figs, whole1 – 2 days5 – 7 days
Fresh figs, cut3 – 4 days

Whole fresh figs typically last for up to a week in the fridge or one to two days on the counter. Cut-up figs keep for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.

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

Since figs aren’t refrigerated when you buy them, it’s important to choose the best ones available. This way, you’ll make sure yours actually retain quality for the mentioned period instead of quickly deteriorating after only a day or two in storage.

To choose the best figs, do the following:

  • Select plump figs that have a little give. The fruit should yield a bit to gentle pressure, but shouldn’t be super soft or mushy.
  • Make sure the figs don’t smell sour. Old figs ferment and give off a sour smell. If those that you’re checking out smell off, don’t buy them.
  • Avoid skin breaks and bruises. Figs with defects on their skin won’t retain quality for more than a couple of days.
Tip

If the mentioned periods aren’t long enough for you, you can freeze figs or dry them.

Figs closeup
Figs closeup

How To Tell If a Fresh Fig Is Bad?

Discard figs that:

  • Smell off. Figs stored for too long tend to ferment ([UCD]) and smell sour. If yours give off a sour or any other foul aroma, it’s time for them to go.
  • Are mushy, shriveled (collapsed inward), or are oozing water. All of these are symptoms of water loss, and there’s not much you can do at this point.
  • The flesh is dark (or even black) instead of red. That’s why you should always cut old figs in half before eating. Fortunately, such figs often are soft or smell sour, so you usually don’t even have to open them up to know they’re bad.
  • Are moldy or start to rot. Either means that fruit is no longer okay to eat.
Fermented fig inside
Fermented fig inside

If none of these are present, that fig should be okay to eat. Cut it in half or quarters, and enjoy.

Of course, there’s also the matter of quality.

For example, your fig might be slightly soft or a bit overripe (the skin being dark instead of greenish-purple). That’s up to you if you’re going to eat it or not. For me, as long as it looks okay and tastes fine, I eat it.

Fig wrinkly skin
Fig wrinkly skin, it’s probably not going to last for more than a day or two

Dried Figs

How To Store Dried Figs

Dried figs need a cool and dry place. A shelf in the pantry or a kitchen cabinet work just fine.

Once you open the bag or want to store figs you dried yourself, transfer the fruits into an airtight container or a freezer bag. This way, the figs won’t dry out and 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 clip.

Do dried figs need to be refrigerated? Not really, but they benefit from refrigeration in the warm months.

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

Dried figs bag
Dried figs bag

How Long Do Dried Figs Last

CounterFridge
Dried figs, unopened or openedBest-by + 1 – 3 monthsBest-by + 3 – 6 months

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

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

Tip

How long dried figs keep quality depends on the storage conditions. A cool (even cold) place and a tight seal can go a long way.

Please note that figs from some sellers come with a slightly different set of guidelines. Here’s what California Figs ([CF]) has to say on the matter:

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

California Figs

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

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

Dried figs date
Dried figs date on label

Do Dried Figs Go Bad?

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

Like all dried fruits, they dry out and harden over time, especially after opening the pack. That’s why, for example, granola doesn’t last forever.

At a certain point, you might find your dried figs too hard for your liking or the taste lacking. Either way, that’s when you throw them out.

Dried fig insides
Dried fig insides, perfectly normal

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

That white crystallized substance is sugar coming out to the surface, and those figs are perfectly fine to eat ([VF]). If anything, that white cast is a sign that that fig was a sweet and juice one. It’s similar to sugar specs that you can sometimes find on dates.

Warning

Don’t mistake that white cast with mold. If the white substance looks like tiny crystals or powder, it’s okay. But if it’s white fuzz, it’s mold, and you should discard the figs. If you cannot tell, err on the side of caution.

Dried figs
Dried figs

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

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

Sources