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fresh figs: preserves?

1thyme Aug 3, 2010 06:47 AM

Has anyone made a really nice, thick fig preserves using fresh figs? I have never canned but the fig tree is bearing so nicely this summer.

  1. m
    morwen Aug 6, 2010 04:03 AM

    I think this is a Kevin West recipe. I made it last year with the figs I have, disregarding his variety recs:
    Fig Preserves with Honey and Aromatics

    2.2 pounds black mission or brown Turkey figs, about 6 cups halved
    4 cups sugar
    1/2 cup sage honey
    1/2 teaspoon or more fennel seed
    3 bay leaves
    zest from one lemon
    juice from one lemon

    1 Figs don't need much prep. Trim the stem end and the tiny button on the flower end. Halve for measurement purposes if working by volume, then quarter for cooking.

    2 Layer figs, sugar, honey, lemon juice, and wild aromatics in a bowl. Macerate overnight.

    3 Put in a pot and heat. I added the lemon zest at this point, but in the future would try adding it towards the end of cooking. Bring to a full boil and skim. Moderate heat and continue skimming, gently stirring or shaking to prevent figs from sticking to the pot and scorching. About 10 minutes cooking should reduce it sufficiently. Ladle into jars and process in boiling water for 10 minutes.

    2.2 pounds figs yielded 2.5 pints

    I haven't made this one yet. I'm hoping our figs will soon be in while the peaches still are:
    Fig Peach Jam
    3 lb. peaches (about 7 medium)
    3 lb. figs
    1/2 c. water
    5 lb. (11-3/4 c.) sugar
    1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon [their idea of flavoring, hah]
    [my idea of flavoring, a vanilla bean & a couple of cinnamon sticks & some orange flower water (optional)]

    Peel the peaches & cut them and the figs in small pieces.

    In a large [non-reactive] pan, combine fruits & the water, & cook slowly until tender. While cooking, add a cheesecloth bag containing a split or broken vanilla bean & a couple of cinnamon sticks broken in big pieces.

    Let sit overnight in the refrigerator.

    Take pan o' fruit out & bring back up to a boil, then turn to a simmer.

    Mash fruit with a potato masher, add the sugar [vanilla sugar is amazing here, & you can swap in some brown sugar for part of the white], stir & cook slowly [it scorches more easily than most, beware] until almost as thick as desired.

    Take out the bag of peachpits, vanilla bean & cinnamon & discard.

    Add a good slug of orange flower water or rosewater here, preferably the former.

    Pour into hot, sterilized jars; seal.

    Process 5 minutes for 1/2 pints, 10 for pints.] Makes about 10 cups. [As if. I've gotten 12. Sterilize a lot of jars.]

    4 Replies
    1. re: morwen
      1thyme Aug 10, 2010 06:34 AM

      Pectin does what: gels? If you make preserves without pectin, is the sugar syrup going to gel somewhat?

      1. re: 1thyme
        morwen Aug 10, 2010 06:25 PM

        Pectin occurs naturally in fruit. Some fruits have a lot and some not so much. Apples are so pectin rich that you can make apple pectin jelly and use it to gel other fruits. Pectin interacts with sugar to create a "web" that traps moisture which is what makes the gel. You can make jams and jellies without added pectin but it often requires almost a 1:1 ratio of sugar to fruit and a long cooking time to reach the gel point at 220F. A digital or candy thermometer is a great help with this. You can use added pectin which helps ensure the set but still requires a goodly amount of sugar and cooking time. Personally I think both these methods produce too sugary a product with a cooked out flavor. I'm a big fan (considered blasphemous by some) of no/low sugar pectin which allows me to control the amount of sugar, has a quick cook time of about 5 minutes leaving the fruit flavor bright, and allows for a lot of play and experimenting.

        That being said, I make my fig jams with no pectin because between the figs and the lemon there seems to be a plethora of pectin and they set up very quickly for me.

      2. re: morwen
        meatn3 Jun 30, 2011 06:45 PM

        Morwen, did you try the fig/peach jam? If so, what were your thoughts? I may try it with apricots since they are nicer than peaches at the moment.

        1. re: meatn3
          morwen Jul 2, 2011 01:11 PM

          No, I didn't get the chance to try it. If you do or any variation thereof, let us know the results.

      3. shanagain Aug 3, 2010 11:12 AM

        If you don't have any restrictions on eating pork, save a few for this recipe! http://homecooking.about.com/od/porkr...

        SO good I made it twice in a row. (I didn't cook the sauce down too too much, and since I cook for a crowd, I browned the pork chops and tossed them in a baking dish, then poured the sauce over and finished them in the oven while rice cooked.)

        1. danna Aug 3, 2010 08:09 AM

          Below is my family's fig preserves recipe. It's spectacular. Typically it comes out pretty loose, so you have lots of syrup for drizzling. Please note the method where you add the sugar 1/2 at a time. By "safe canning", my Mom means you steralize the jars and add the hot syrup. She does NOT process further by putting the filled jars in a water bath. I'm not sure if that would affect the final product, but of course you could do it if the canning method you choose to follow calls for it.

          Johnson Family Fig Preserves

          1 quart figs, washed, stems removed, quartered.
          3 cups sugar , divided
          ½ lemon sliced very thinly (optional)

          Put figs, 1 ½ cups sugar, and lemon (if using) into a large heavy pot. Bring heat up to boiling gradually, making sure sugar does not stick. When it boils, cover for a minute to dissolve any crystals. Uncover and boil 8 minutes. Add the remaining 1 ½ cups sugar. Cover again to dissolve crystals. Boil for another 8 minutes.

          Transfer preserves to sterilized glass jars following standard safe canning practices.

          1. j
            Jean Groen Aug 3, 2010 07:31 AM

            I make strawberry fig jam which everyone loves!
            3 c. chopped strawberries
            3 c. chopped figs, 1/2 c. water
            1/4 c. lemon juice
            1 pkg. pectin
            4 c. sugar
            Put all but sugar in large pan and stir well. Bring to boil and then add the pectin. Bring back to rolling boil and cook an additional 1 minute. I then take my Cuisinart hand held blender and stir the mixture well with it. Can! I also have recipes for Fig/Orange Spice Jam and plain Fig Jam if you are interested.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Jean Groen
              meatn3 Jun 30, 2011 06:42 PM

              I have a friend with two enormous fig trees who has given me unlimited access - got 12 lbs today!
              I'm hoping to try a good 10 - 12 new recipes this season.

              Could you supply the Fig/Orange Spice Jam recipe please?

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