Fresh figs contain a lot of water like many fruits. Water in fruits (or any other food) helps living organisms to growth. Then over time and favorable condition lead to fruit decay. Long time storage of foods is possible in different procedures. One of these methods is the use of refrigeration equipment, which is not applicable in many cases. For instance, fresh fig cannot be stored in refrigerator for a long time. Another method for long time food storage is drying. This is done by removing water from the fruit. Water removal usually is done by evaporating method. Dried figs also obtained using the same process. Of course, this process changes fruit properties, which is not our discussion.
Dried figs is a sweet and very nutritious fruit and has many health benefits. It is interesting that the treatment of many common nowadays problems can be found in fig properties. One of the most important properties of fig is treat and cure of constipation and also treatment of bloating of stomach and the digestive system. Among the other fig benefits, we can point to Iron enrichment and usefulness for Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA). Dried figs also is the best foods for people with physical weakness because of the high sugar content and its tonic and energizing properties. Controlling blood pressure is one of the other fig benefits due to its Potassium. Since the presence of potassium decrease urinary calcium excretion, eating figs, increase bone density and prevent osteoporosis.
Preventing hair loss due to sulfur content, preventing cancer and use in slimming diet due to its fiber are other important fig benefits.
Fig drying could be done in various ways. The first and common method is using sunlight. Airflow and wind could be also helpful. Heating is also another method for fig drying. Due to different conditions, fig drying method in garden, homes and factories could be different.
The first point which must be considered in fig drying is to let fruits semi-dried on the fig tree and fall naturally. Picking fresh fig for drying could reduce final quality of product.
In large fig produced garden, sun drying method is used by almost producer. In this method fig fruit remains on the tree until half drying. After falling fruit and collect them under the tree, they decanted in pre-built special place. These places are known as “Ashpeng” in Iran and of course they have other local names.
Ashpeng need to be made expose to sunlight all day long. Required time for Ashpeng to dry figs is depends on warm and temperature and primary figs water content. Generally, it could be state that fig drying in Ashpeng longs 3 to 5 days. Also, figs collection should be done in early morning before sunrise. Because with its warm, fruits become soft and storage might be difficult. If collected figs not dried sufficiently and kept inaccuracy might be discolored gradually and lose their first quality.
If there is outdoor condition at homes, fig fruit could dry with sunlight or air dry condition. The simultaneous use of both methods is also common and sensible. The point should be noted again is that fig fruit should be remain on the tree until semi-dried and naturally falling. However, for fig drying at home, fruits should first passed through a string. Then, a set of rosary-like figs hang in exposed to sunlight. Sometimes before drying, figs were imbued with some flour.
Another method which can be used at home is grill or oven drying. In this way, oven should be pre-heated to 60oC. Then figs placed into grill on the grid plate of the oven. Importantly, the oven door should be slightly open to remove moisture. Otherwise figs become extremely hot and cooked. Also, figs in the oven should be rotated time to time. Required time for stay semi dried figs in the oven is 12-18 hour approximately. Fresh figs may require 36 h to dry. Dried figs obtained when fruit inside water completely remove and figs wrinkle.
In the factories desiccant is used for drying figs. Usually most processes of drying food, includes use of hot air. Air drying by crystallization of the food causes the final product to be more like to its original shape.
Whichever method is used for drying figs, a wide range of quality of final figs product will be obtained. Categorizing and classification of dried figs is done after collecting them. For this purpose, similar dried figs in term of color and shape and size were put in a group. This allows different types of dried figs which are released for market. Some of these types have poor quality and low prices, while others have very high prices. Price differences in some cases with slight quality differences may be unbelievable for many people. But it is common for those who are familiar with the subject. The important note is that rancidity and deterioration of figs, decreases the final price in spite of good appearance. In the next article classifying different types of dried figs will be explained.
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