Fresh fig jam on gluten free bread...so yummy!
I have a friend who has two enormous fig trees. She hates those trees, does not like figs and does not harvest the fruit. When she told me she wanted to rip her fig trees out of the ground to make room for something else I nearly had a cow. You want to do what? Do you know how expensive fresh figs are in the stores, and you have them for free in your yard? I will harvest your figs! Don't rip down your trees!
So I got my rear end over there with a big bucket and picked as many fresh figs as I possibly could, and then I got my rear end into the kitchen and made fig jam. Do you know how expensive fig jam is in the stores, I asked my friend, and I just made scads for practically free? She is still not convinced. If she does choose to cut down her trees, I will take a cutting or two to plant in my yard. Fig jam is wonderful stuff and this year, friends and family will be getting some for holiday gifts.
We enjoy fig jam on sandwiches, but you can make fig bars with it too!
For this recipe I mostly followed my tattered but trusty Ball Blue Book of Canning and Preserving, but I also took tips HERE on the preparation of fresh figs. I also went HERE for a refresher on the rules of canning - if you have never canned before, I highly recommend you read that and get yourself a Ball Blue Book too. This recipe here is also an excellent guide with pictures to making fig jam. My Ball Blue Book specified using 6 cups of sugar, but I cut down on the sugar by two cups because 6 cups makes the jam just too sweet to my taste. I think 4 cups of sugar makes it plenty sweet. Maybe because of the decreased sugar, I had to add a little pectin** to my recipe. In the end, my jam came out perfect - thick, smooth and beautiful. Tasty, too!
Fresh Fig Jam
5 pounds fresh ripe* figs, stemmed and peeled
4 cups sugar
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 cup water
**1 tsp. Pomona's Universal Pectin plus 2 tbsp. sugar plus 1 tsp. included calcium water, if desired1/4 cup lemon juice
Prepare your jars and lids (I used 12 jars). The jars need to be clean and sterilized and kept hot - the lids do not need to be sterilized, but they do need to be washed and to be kept hot. I have a sanitize option on my dishwasher, so I just run the jars and lids in the dishwasher - I have to time this correctly so the jars are hot when I am ready for them. Or you can wash your jars in the sink, then put them in a pot of water. Bring the water to a boil, and boil the jars and lids for 10 minutes to sterilize them. Keep them in hot water until you are ready to fill them with jam. You can keep the lids in a smaller pot of hot water until ready to use. If the jars are not hot when you put hot jam into them, they could break, and that is no fun.
In a large pot, combine the sugar, cinnamon and water. Add the figs. *You don't want figs that are so ripe they are mushy or bruised easily. And it's okay to throw in some almost-ripe figs, as the slightly under-ripe ones have more natural pectin. Cook and stir until mixture comes to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer. Skim any foam off the top if necessary. Cook, stirring frequently to prevent sticking, until mixture thickens, about an hour. You can mash the figs a bit to break them up into smaller bits if you wish.
Meanwhile, fill your canner with water and get the water hot.
If after an hour of cooking down the jam has gelled to your liking**, add the 1/4 cup lemon juice. Return to a boil and boil for 1 minute, then turn off the heat.
**To see if your jam has gelled, keep a spoon in the fridge. Scoop a bit of the jam onto the cold spoon, and let the jam on it cool to room temperature. If it is thick to your liking, that's that. If not, then keep cooking to the gelling point. I cooked my jam for an hour and a half and it still was not gelled enough for me, so I added some Pomona's pectin to help things along - not as much as suggested on the recipe sheet inside the pectin box, but that extra teaspoon of pectin turned out to be just perfect. To add pectin to the jam, thoroughly mix it with the 2 tbsp. sugar and then whisk the sugar/pectin mixture and the calcium water vigorously into the hot jam. Bring the jam to a boil and boil for 1 - 2 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in the lemon juice.
Fill hot jars with hot jam, leaving 1/4 inch of head space between the jam and the rim of the jar. Wipe the rim of the jar clean with a damp cloth or paper towel (debris on the rim will prevent the lid from sealing). Adjust the two piece caps (not too tight) and place the jars on the basket that comes with the canner. Lower the basket into the water. The water should only cover the jars by 2 - 3 inches. Bring the water to a boil, then cover the canner and boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and lift the jars out of the canner. I put them on a towel on the counter to cool - the jars should not touch one another to allow for circulation. Sometimes the jars seal in the canner and sometimes they will seal after you take them out of the canner - I love to hear the popping sound the lids make as they seal. If after 12 hours you have any jars that do not seal (the bump in the center of the lid has not gone flat), store those jars in the fridge. For all jars that seal, store in a cool dark place for up to a year.