The fig tree isn’t a very glamorous plant. The stems are twisted, flexible and a bland grey, the leaves rough, leathery and large enough to cover Adam and Eve’s genitalia.
The fruit though, oh yeah, now we’re talking. When you spilt open a fully ripe fig, plump from autumn rain, you’ll understand why in some ancient cultures the fig is representative of sexual awakening and desire.
Those though figs are not only delicious to eat straight off the tree, but cook them up with some sugar and citrus juice and you’ll have a tremendous Fig Jam, and yes, it is that good.
To make this batch I used two kilos of figs, just do some maths and work out the quantities of each that you will need for the amount of figs that you have.
1 cup of citrus juice (I used 50/50 orange and lemon)
2 kgs of sugar , warmed.
That’s the beauty of jam. You really just need the fruit, something to help release the pectin and some sugar to conserve it.
Step one. Chop the fruit up into sizeable chunks. Too small and you’ll just have mush. Some recipes just ask for the fruit to be left whole, I don’t like that idea much at all.
Step Two. Squeeze the juice. You can add more than the one cup that I used and you can mix up the ratios as much as you like. I just squeezed all the oranges I had in the house and what lemons I could scrounge from my neighbour’s tree.
Step Three. Mix them together and start cooking. Just to get technical for a while, this is where you release the pectin in the fruit. The citric acid in the fruit helps the pectin in the figs to release. The riper the fig, the less pectin there is in it. Don’t worry too much though, just cook them until they look like these, quite unattractive I have to admit, figs.
Step 4. Add the sugar and start cooking. I add my sugar a ladle full at a time and stir it in, but many others just toss it all in at once, either method works. It will take some time and try not to forget about it, get side tracked by the telly or have a nap. Burnt Fig Jam may be a speciality of Maggie Beer, but we’re not making that here. As it cooks a frothy scum will form on the top, scrape it off as it makes your jam look a touch funky.
Step 5. Check the setting point. If you’re really schmick you’ll have a jam thermometer, I’m not so I have a frozen plate. Take it easy here because your jam can turn very quickly if you have it on full bore. Just drizzle some of the jam onto you frozen plate and pop it back into the freezer for a few minutes. Then give it the wrinkle test by pushing into it. I like my jam a bit runnier than some so I stopped cooking it about 5 minutes after taking this pic.
Step 5. Bottling. I wash my jars in the dishwasher and then place them in a warm oven to keep warm. Let the jam settle for about 5 – 10 minutes before pouring it into the jars. Seal as soon as you can hold onto them.