Figs, Figs, and More Figs

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My husband and I have a huge fig tree in our backyard that seems to be getting bigger and bigger each year. Last year, after we had been at our house only 1 year, we had no idea what to do with them. They also ripened just at the time that we were away in Europe, so we didn’t get a chance to harvest them. Honestly, I had never eaten figs before, and didn’t really know what they were. This year, I tried them and boy were they good. I have been going a little crazy looking up different recipes to do with figs. I have been picking them for about 3 weeks now, and I have about 4 huge containers full of them in my freezer (there is no way that I could eat them all). Plus, they get ripe very quickly and don’t last very long in my fridge or on my counter (about 2 days tops). A few days ago I picked more than 50 from our tree in about 15 minutes, and just from branches that I could reach (no ladder involved). Crazy!

I thought to myself, what am I going to do with all of these figs? Seriously! I hope people like figs, because I am pretty sure that I am going to be giving them away for Christmas presents. Hello friends and family! A DIY is coming your way.

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So I made some jam…I used about half of one bag of figs and it made 9 jars of jam. How many jars and I going to fill? Lets just say…I am going to have to buy a few more (plus a hell of a lot more sugar). It is a good thing that this jam is tasty! Actually, it isn’t really very sweet, but almost has a savoury quality to it. I love it!

My mom and I made it at her house, and it really only took maybe an hour to make one batch. If any of you have ever made jam, let me just tell you that it is hot! I have burnt myself on more than 1 occasion, and that stuff hurts bad. Like, really bad. Nothing burns more (except maybe tomato sauce). Making jam is really quite easy to do, and doesn’t require a lot of effort. Like I said, about an hour or so just for the one batch (and a lot of counter space), then you are pretty much done. It does help to have another person to be there so that you can multitask most stuff, but it can definitely be done by yourself.

I got the recipe from kraftrecipes.com for a Certo based recipe (which is a powdered pectin product that is common to buy to make jam). We first chopped the figs into small chunks until we had 4 cups. Next time, I think that I will chop them up a little smaller in hopes that I could use more figs. I then measured out 7, thats right, 7 cups of sugar. If you have ever seen that much in a bowl, it is very surprising. I look at it saying, “Are you sure? ALL of it?”. You want it to taste good. I have made low sugar jam before, and it is gross. Probably better for you, but in general, if you don’t slather on the jam every day (like my husband), than I think that you will be just fine

We then put the figs in a pot, added 1/2 cup of water, and 1/2 cup of lemon juice (to prevent them from going brown), then mixed it all together. Then we put it on the stove and added the sugar. Then came the hard part. We boiled it. Stirred constantly, and boiled it. The nerve-racking part. Let me just say that it is a good thing that I wore a longsleeve sweater. When anything boils it starts to pop and spray, and when you have to stand right over it and stir it continuously for about a minute to prevent it from burning, is a really long time and can be quite dangerous. I would definitely recommend a long sleeve sweater and maybe oven mitts. Don’t wear something that you don’t want possibly tainted with jam.

During this time we washed all of the jars, and boiled the lids in a pot. Then we put all of the jars in the oven at about 200 degrees. Preparation is key! You always want to have these steps in the works first before you start the pot. If you start the pot too early than you won’t be prepared to start when the jam is ready. This is sometimes wear another person does come in handy if you need to do more than 1 part of the process at a time, because while the jam is boiling you can’t really stop to do anything else. If the phone rings, you will not be answering.

Once your hot jam is boiled, you need to move all of the hot jars onto a large wood cutting board, or a tea towel to protect the counter. You then skim off whatever foam is on the top. With this jam I didn’t quite follow the recipe to add the other ingredient to prevent it from foaming because I usually just use the skimmed off bit as jam (it is really yummy), but there wasn’t really much. Then you can start pouring in the jam. I like to use a funnel that is shallow and fits into the jars well. My mom has a perfect one, but if you don’t have one you can buy one here. We just used a plastic one and if worked just fine. So you basically just use a ladle and a funnel to fill a jar. Then you get a hot lid from the pot on the stove, and place it on top. You then use the screw tops for the jars to make sure that it is sealed, and set the jar aside.

You follow these steps until all of them are filled, and then comes the fun part. Only when I have canned pears or peaches have I ever had to do this, but this step makes sure that all of the bacteria is killed, so it is pretty important. For all other jams that I have made I didn’t have to do this step, but figs are special. You need to get a canner, or a pressure cooker works just fine. You fill it with water and place all of the jars in. The water must be high enough to cover an inch above the highest jar. You then boil the water for 30 minutes. When taking these babies out, please use tongs so that you don’t burn your hands (like my mom is famous for doing because she just thinks that she can take them out…Christmas gift idea!). You can then set the jars on the same tea towel, or wooden cutting board to cool, and voila!

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We have been enjoying our jam for sure these past few weeks and I can’t wait to make more. We just got another 100 or so figs from our tree just today, and I don’t even have enough space in my freezer for them! I know what I will be making constantly this year! Time to research more fig recipes! Thanks for reading.

L.

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*Sorry I didn’t include any photos of the process, and basically only the before and after, but I honestly didn’t have time. The whole process went by so fast, that I just didn’t get a chance. But since this jam situation will be happening in the future, you can be sure that I will have more photos!

*Also, if you don’t really want to purchase any really new items in order to make jam, I found this website that shows you how to make some of them! Or you can make freezer jam (not with figs) with raspberries or strawberries

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