It’s the end of the season, a time when there can be an excess of produce coming out of the garden and crowding the market stands. And, to be honest, the novelty of a lot of these fruits and vegetables has worn off. So if there was ever a time to experiment with preservation methods, it’s now. By saving things now, I’ll have a little taste of summer during the cold months when I’ll really appreciate it.
First up: canning home-made jam. I’ve done some canning before, and I’ve made raspberry and blackberry jams with my mom, but with figs bursting open on the trees I decided it was time to branch out. I absolutely love those dark, sticky fig spreads you find at specialty shops and Whole Foods. When I looked around on the internet for a fig jam recipe, I found a lot of different variations. Some used sugar, some used honey, and the proportions of sweetener to fruit varied widely. Some called for lemon juice while others called for sliced whole lemons, pith and all. Most curiously, some called for pectin while others implied that figs had a lot of natural pectin already.
I ended up synthesizing my own recipe. I used a combination of sweeteners to add to the carmelly flavor, and I went for the whole-lemon option. I also excluded the pectin, which was good because the jam ended up being quite thick and gel-like without it. If anything, it was thicker than I meant it to be.
Amelia’s Dark and Sticky Fig Spread
3 cups chopped figs (peel thick skins off, but some skin is okay if it’s diced fine)
Scant 2 cups sweetener mixture – approx. 3/4 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup white sugar, 1/4 cup honey, 1/4 agave nectar
1/2 lemon, sliced very thinly and then chopped
Directions: Put all ingredients into a heavy-bottomed pot and simmer for around 45 minutes, or until it’s brown and somewhat thickened. Remember, it will thicken a lot more as it cools. Can it using proper canning methods. Makes two 8-ounce jars.
It’s really tasty. The lemon gives it a nice bright kick and the sugars and honey gave it great depth. I can’t wait to eat it with bread and some blue cheese (Shropshire Blue would be ideal).