Fig Preserves!

I made this batch of fig preserves last week with figs from my very own tree! My husband gave me the tree for Mother’s Day, 2016. They are “Brown Turkey” variety figs. Delicious! It was the first time I had used home-grown figs!

Needed: Fresh figs, sugar, canning equipment, time, and lots of patience.

This recipe works regardless of the amount of figs you are blessed to have. No measuring!

My dad had 8 sisters (7 older and 1 younger ). One of them, my Aunt Jimmie Lou, is the one who taught me how to make these old-fashioned fig preserves. Now normally I am a cook who measures; however, not when making fig preserves. But I promise it’s easy, and you will be able to make them too. There are only two ingredients – figs and sugar!

  • First rinse the figs in cool water, and remove all the stems. Next, I soak the figs in my kitchen sink in cool water for about 30 minutes or so. I then drain them by giving them a final cool rinse in a colander.  
  • Next, I get a large pan and alternate a layer of sugar and a layer of figs. (Begin with a layer of sugar in the bottom of the pan, and end with a sprinkling of sugar on your top layer of figs.)
  • BEFORE you layer the figs/sugar, cut about half of the figs in half. Cut half in half, leave half whole.” How’s that for measuring? This has proven to be the best texture we like for the preserves. We like for some of them to remain whole!
  • No matter what size stock pot or heavy pan you use to soak the figs and sugar, just generously sprinkle a layer of sugar over each layer of figs. I don’t totally cover the figs with sugar, just a nice sprinkling.
  • Now put a lid on the stockpot and place in the refrigerator. The sugar will begin to dissolve and form the syrup you need to “cook down” for the preserves.
  • The next morning, let the figs/sugar come to room temperature before you begin cooking them.
  • Bring them to a gentle boil, and let them boil on a medium heat for a good half hour. Then turn the temperature way down and let the mixture simmer LOW AND SLOW until the figs darken and the syrup thickens. I usually simmer them from 90 minutes to a couple of hours. Stir often so they don’t stick. One good test is to take a spoonful of the syrup and put it on a plate – if it is thick and doesn’t “run,” it’s the right consistency. A nice slow simmer for a couple of hours is good.  If you have a very large amount of figs, you may need to cook them longer – just do the “thickness” test and that is a good indicator.
  • CANNING:  Bring your clean jars to a simmering boil in a large pot. Also put the bands and lids in a separate pot. Keep those HOT by leaving them in a pot of simmering water also.
  • Carefully ladle the HOT fig preserves into the HOT jars, leaving about ¼” of headspace.
  • Put the lids and bands on – don’t screw the tops on too tightly – just finger tight so they can expand.
  • Carefully lower the jars of hot figs back into a pan a hot water, covering the jars by at least an inch of water. Process them, or “water bath” the preserves for a good 10 minute rolling boil.
  • After 10 minutes, carefully remove the hot jars with tongs and let them cool and seal on the kitchen countertop. I love to hear those popping sounds as the jars seal. One of life’s simple joys.

Get ready to make some homemade buttermilk biscuits. Generously butter them to enjoy with these delicious fig preserves. A Southern delicacy for sure. My biscuit recipe is also here on the blog!

Happy Preserve-Making & Canning ~ Gran Jan

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