Does your newest favorite pie recipe call for figs, and they’ve just got out of season ? You’ve got a slim chance of finding any fresh figs right now, but there’s still hope.
Even if you don’t have fresh figs, there are other fruits you can use in their place. True, not many will replace the texture and surprising crunch. But some may come close and even become a new favorite !
So let’s see what options you have when looking for a good fig substitute.
Best fig substitutes
The best substitutes for fresh figs are dried figs, fig jam, pears, nectarines, fresh apricots, strawberry, dried dates, quince, raisins, and dried prunes. These all work with varying degrees, and it’s up to you how far from the original flavor you’re willing to go.
Unfortunately figs are not available from mid-fall all the way to mid-spring. This means that your chances of getting real, fresh figs is pretty much zero and your desserts will have to be adapted.
We need to really understand what a fig taste like, before we understand what all the substitutes are. This will make things much easier, and maybe even remind you of another substitutes that we didn’t list here.
What do figs taste like ?
Figs taste like cross between honey and dried prunes or raisins, but with less tartness. They’re a little floral and definitely not juicy. They are moist and can get very sweet when they’re fully ripe.
There is no mistaking the honey or nectar flavor in a fig, and when it’s dry it becomes sticky and even sweeter. For this reason dried or canned figs may be a very good idea, depending on your reference. Let’s talk a little about those substitutes, shall we ?
The first option, and the one we recommend the most. Dried figs can be rehydrated with hot water for a couple of hours. If they’re still a little tough, simmer them for about 10 minutes and then check again. They should be soft and plump.
Of course, they won’t look the same but if you’re making a pie filling, you can always add a few drops of cranberry juice, red beet juice, or hibiscus powder to get a reddish-pink tinge to the mix.
The upside to using dried figs over fresh is the sweetness. As a fig dries, the sugars dry out and turn more towards a honey flavor, which makes the figs even sweeter.
If you don’t like dried figs, consider canned figs. These are fresh figs that were sliced and packed in syrup. They’re definitely going to be sweet, to make sure to adjust the sweetener in your recipe.
Canned figs may work a little better than dried, if you can find them. They’re already soft and plump, and if you find a good batch the slices should look beautiful.
Read also: Why Are Figs So Expensive ?
Let’s say you don’t like or can’t find dried figs, or canned figs. There’s always fig jam to consider. These are figs that were boiled with sugar until they thickened and turned into the jam you see on the shelf.
Depending on your need a fig jam might work better than fresh figs. For example in a pie filling, fig jam will spread evenly and will be very easy to cut through. Sure, it might be considered a shortcut, but does it really matter ?
If you’re serving a cheese platter and need that perfect fruity something to pair with the cheese, then a fresh fig will look lovely. But a bit of fig jam in a decorative serving bowl will look just as great. Improvise !
Really, fig jam can work pretty much anywhere fresh figs would be needed. Well, maybe not in salads, but you could make a dressing out of fig jam, thinned with a little water and olive oil.
Strawberries are a good option when looking to replace figs, as their texture is very similar. Yes, fresh figs are a little denser than fresh strawberries but the inside is absolutely the same.
The seeds are just as many and they crunch all the same. They may not have the exact same flavor, but that can easily be managed with a dollop of honey to deepen the flavor. If you have no honey some maple syrup will work well.
Keep in mind that adding sugar to strawberries will bring out their flavor more, so if you’re trying to avoid that go for less sugar, or use honey.
And if you can’t find fresh strawberries, then strawberry jam will work fine.
Where you’ll find dried figs you’ll find dried dates. Actually you’ll find dates where you’ll find figs in any shape or form, since they grow in very similar climates and are often sold together.
So, dates. These are way stickier than figs, but the upside is that they’ve got the closest flavor of them all. They won’t have the crunch of a fig but they will do nicely in a pinch.
Try and get the pitter dates. This will make your life easier then it’s time to cut them. And just like dried figs, remember that you can rehydrate these just as well.
Quinces may not be your first choice, but they’re an interesting one. If you’re not familiar with the, quinces are like tough pears, but less sweet and they’ve got a mouth-drying astringency. Not sour, just a little tart but they make you pucker your lips.
Once you slice them and arrange in a pie shell, they will soften just enough during baking. They’ll have a bit of a bite to them, and they have a grainy texture that may remind you of figs a little.
Grated, they’re not the most common fruit out there, but maybe you can find them. Their season is right in fall and winter, so if you’re right before Thanksgiving you’re in luck.
If you’d rather stick to something a little more familiar then golden raisins may be batter for you. They have a similar flavor to dried dates, and they’re made of white grapes. This makes them less tart, and they’ve got less tannins in their skin.
True, raisins are damn small and they may not be everyone’s favorite, But if you soak them beforehand, and add a bit of honey, they should plump up and develop a nice flavor.
Dried prunes may be more to your liking, if you’re looking for something with a fruity feel to it. They’re much larger than raisins, and they’re milder in taste. Remember to rehydrate them !
The reason we’re recommending dried prunes over fresh one is because of the tart, fresh flavor fresh prunes have. They’re very different from figs and would change the flavor a lot. But if you want to try fresh prunes go ahead.
They’re great chopped up in salads and even sliced thinly and places in a prosciutto sandwich. Really, there’s nothing you can di with a fig that you can’t do with a pear.
If your plan was to roast some figs and give them a caramel glaze guess who else goes great with that ? Yup.
Just remember to look for the ripest, juiciest pears you can find out there. They should be golden, but this also depends on the type you have available in your area.
Nectarines or peaches
And now we’re straying from figs altogether. The thing with nectarines and peaches is that their flavor is sweet, tropical, and tart. Like pears, they’ll work great on a cheese platter and in a salads as well.
They’re also the best thing to use for a pie filling since they slice easily and have a lot of juice, and require almost no sugar.
It doesn’t really matter which you get, since nectarines and peaches are the same thing. Just nectarines have a mutation that prevents them from growing any fuzz on their skin.
Remember to add honey to all of the substitutes
Whichever substitute you decide to use, remember to add a bit of honey instead of sugar. This will help replicate the fig flavor more, and it can add a nice touch to anything.
If you want to go one step further, try adding a few rose petals. Figs have a floral flavor that is a bit close to roses. Just a few petals though, because if you add too much they can overpower the dessert. Never underestimate the strength of a few rose buds or petals !
Read Also:Best Papaya Substitute
Consider a puree filling for dried fruits
If you’re using any of the dried fruits mentioned above, then pureeing them may be an option. Unlike fresh figs, dried fruit can get tough and chewy. Depending on your preferences this can make a dessert better or worse.
We recommend pureeing the fruits anyway, just to make things more manageable. Be sure to soak the fruits in hot water for a couple of hours before pureeing them. It makes the process much easier.
Always remember to account for moisture !
You should remember to account for moisture all the time, but especially if you’re pureeing dried fruit. You need to add extra moisture, whether it’s water or milk or a syrup.
This will make the moisture level go up, and this could ruin the dessert if it’s a very specific one in the recipe.
Hopefully you’ve found at least one useful substitute on this list. Your dessert doesn’t have to be ruined just because you can’t reasonably find fresh figs. Don’t despair, try something from this list and see how it goes. Good luck !