I don’t eat too much jam, but fig jam I do eat with some regularity. You see, I have a black Mission fig tree in my yard that I planted in 2004, and it is getting large enough now that I am getting tons of figs.
Too many to eat fresh, in fact. So I need to do something with them besides drying them. I know, I know. I can hear you all weeping through my computer screen.
The other reason I like fig jam so much is that it is a little different from most recipes. Technically, this is probably more of a spread than a jam, as it’s pretty loose — and it is most definitely an adult indulgence. I add a bit of salt and bay leaves to make it a little more complex. Then I spike it with ouzo.
It’s still sweet enough for a breakfast spread, but the herbal note from the bay lets this fig jam come into the dinner menu, too. It is a good side for roast pork or wild boar, and makes an excellent tart filling or a filling for a hand pie.
The citric acid adds a little zing to the fig jam, and it helps preserve it, too. You don’t have to use it, but you can find pure citric acid online or through beer brewing shops, and there is a product called Fruit Fresh that is mostly citric acid; it works, too.
- 4 pounds figs
- Juice of two lemons, about 1/2 cup
- Zest of two lemons, about 2 tablespoons
- 1 tsp . citric acid (optional)
- 4 cups sugar
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 cup ouzo, divided
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Zest and juice the lemons and set aside. Chop the figs roughly into small pieces. The skins of the figs tend to stay the same size no matter how long you cook them, so be mindful when you are chopping -- you don't want big hunks of fig skin in the jam when you're trying to spread it on toast, do you?
- Add the bay leaves, salt, sugar, lemon juice and zest and half the ouzo to the figs and mix well. Let stand at room temperature, covered, for at least an hour but no more than five hours.
- Get a big kettle of water ready to can the jam. Sterilize your jars and lids.
- Bring the fig mixture to a simmer over medium heat and let this cook for 45 minutes to an hour, depending on how loose the mix was at the start. This recipe makes a loose jam anyway, but you do want it to be spreadable. Stir the mixture often, otherwise the figs and sugar will fuse to the bottom of the pan and burn. Not good. When the jam is done, turn off the heat, wait for it to stop simmering and then stir in the rest of the ouzo and the citric acid, if you're using it.
- Pour the fig jam into sterilized pint jars and seal. Process in boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove, let dry and check the seals when the jam is cool. The jam should last at least a year.