Food drying is one of the oldest methods used to preserve food for later use; the low moisture content of the foods prevents bacteria, fungus and yeast growth and prolongs the fruit shelf-life. Mature figs are harvested during the peak season; they are rinsed under cold running water and then drained. The natural and authentic way to sun-dry figs is to open them flat and place them skin-side down on green broom branches (wezzel in Arabic). Broom branches ensure air circulation around the fruits and avoid molding during the drying process. These branches are cut green and pressed with a wooden board prior to use, to make sure they are well flattened. The figs are left to dry in the sun for a week (according to the weather); they are covered during the night to protect them from dew.
To make sure dried figs last longer without spoiling, they are subjected to another process known as steaming or “tehbil” in Arabic.
2 kg of dried figs
1 tsp of anise seeds, 1 tsp of clovers and a handful of bay leaves wrapped together in cheesecloth
2 liters of water.
- In a large cooking pot, bring the water to boil
- Add the cloth with the spices inside
- Place the figs in a stainless steel colander
- Submerge the colander in the water for 3 seconds, 3 times
- After the third plunge, spread the figs on a cloth to dry away from the sun
In addition to prolonging the storage life of the figs, the steaming process with the spices adds flavors to the fruits.