- 40-50 figs or 16 cups
- 2 lemons or 1 cup lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon nutmeg
- 2-3 cups sugar
- Optional: 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- Optional: 1/4 tsp. ground ginger
I am delighted to say that I was welcomed to pick figs again from my neighbor’s trees. They have 4 huge king fig trees lining the alley and sidewalk and they allow neighbors to harvest and glean from those public walkways. Since I did this once before (2 years ago. Last year they severely pruned back the tree and no figs grew), I remembered how itchy and sticky this would get. So I wore long sleeves, pants, a hat, and gloves. I brought my ladder and my friend. This year I also brought many flat boxes to carry them home in a single layer, instead of piled and smooshed together in one giant box.
Well, it was a fun adventure and I enjoyed every minute of it! Free produce is one of my favorite things.
But I know most of you are reading this because you want to know what recipe I used for canning jam. Figs are low in acid, unlike most fruits, so you really must add something acidic in order to can it properly in a hot water bath canner. You can add vinegar (balsamic is nice) citrus fruits, a berry, or something similar. There are many recipes out there that are more complicated. I always choose the easy route, so for this there was no peeling or preheating or soaking or anything like that.
I just snipped off the stems with my kitchen shears, poured hot water over them to rinse them and tossed them into my largest cast iron pot. I counted out 50 figs of varied sizes. Probably about 16 cups when halved. But that’s a guess. I did not cut these. I just put them into a pot. I added 1 cup of water and turned it on to low heat, covered. After about 1 hour, I stirred them up and the figs were ready to fall apart. I used a wooden spoon and kind of smashed them down. I returned the lid and let them cook for another 30 minutes on medium heat. When they were nice and broken down, I added 2 cups of sugar (you can add more if you like) and in one batch I added 2 whole lemons (choppped small and seeded, skins on), into a second bath I added one whole chopped lemon and 1/2 cup of thawed lemon juice. Next I added 1 teaspoon nutmeg. I let this cook for 15 minutes or so, until the lemons were cooked.
Using my immersion blender I pureed the whole batch. At this point I got my hot water bath going, sanitized my jars, rings, lids, and got everything ready for canning. I left the fig preserves bubbling on low to medium.
When everything was ready, I poured the preserves into hot jars and processed in the hot water bath for 20 minutes. My first batch made 10 jars of various sizes. Some 1/4 pints, some 1/2 pints, some pints. My second batch made 6 pints. So it varies depending on the exact size of figs used and how many get tossed in. So my recipe is an estimate, but a close one. From all of the recipes I’ve read, it seems like it’s 16 cups figs to 1 cup lemon juice, or there about.
Since I did not add pectin or boil this stuff, it’s thin. It thickens up a little over time, but it’s not really a jam for sandwiches, more of a preserve to go over biscuits, scones, pancakes, yogurt, oatmeal, etc. To make it thicker I could have reduced it longer…that is, allowed it to bubble and simmer without the lid on, in order to evaporate the liquid out.
Another option is that you can add cinnamon and ginger to this if you like. I did add some to one of my batches. But the predominant spice was nutmeg.
Besides making preserves with these awesome figs I am eating them like crazy. They are so good! Melt in your mouth soft and you can eat the whole thing, skin and all. I’ve also frozen a couple of quarts of chopped figs. And I have brought a plate of this to two parties: