Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Happy Autumn!

Don't tell anyone, but I'm not crazy about least the fresh kind. They are good enough, I guess. But I usually find that I never use them up, though I have very good intentions when I buy them at the farmers' market. Quite honestly by the time I get around to using them, usually in a salad, they've gone moldy and turned to mush.

However, occasionally motivation strikes me, especially when I realize that the season is quickly drawing to a close. And mostly because I love fig jam. It is everything that fresh figs are not--tangy, sweet and complex. We use it to spread on sandwiches made with goat cheese and rustic bread. We serve it on a cheese plate, and I even think it would be delicious in thumbprint cookies.

Another great thing about fig jam is that it's surprisingly quick and easy to make. Because this recipe only makes 4 half pints, you don't need to drag out your huge water-bath canner either--your pasta pot will do fine. If you are new to canning, it really is easier than you think. Martha has some great tips here.

Fig Jam
Adapted from Put "Em Up

This sexy concoction is sticky, sweet and tangy--and definitely not child's play. Sure your kids can eat it if they want, but I'm willing to bet you won't want to share it! Spread it on a sandwich with smoked turkey and goat cheese, or spoon it over a hunk of aged farmhouse cheddar. Make extra to give as a gift....

Prep time: 15 minutes
Total time: Just over an hour
Yield: about 4 cups


2 pounds fresh figs
1 cup water
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar


1. Sterilize 4 half pint jars in a pot of boiling water (or in a 200 degree oven) for 10 minutes, turn the heat to low and add the lids (it should no longer be boiling). Keep warm while you prepare the jam. Just before filling with jam, remove jars from the water and invert on a clean dishcloth to drain. Fill your canner (or pasta pot with insert) with water and bring to a boil.

2. Meanwhile, stem and quarter figs and place in a medium non-reactive stockpot with the water. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes to soften fruit.

3. Mash the figs using a potato masher, then add the sugar, lemon juice and vinegar. Return to boil, reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally for 30 minutes, or until thick and glossy. If you want to test to make sure it has gelled, place a plate in the freezer for 10 minutes and then drizzle some of the jam across it. It should set quickly.

4. When jam is ready, carefully ladle it into the hot sterilized jars using a canning funnel leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Wipe rims clean, top with lids and loosely tighten bands.

5. Process in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and let jars rest in the hot water for 5 minutes more. Remove from pot, using jar tongs and let sit on the counter for 24 hours. You will probably hear the "ping" from the lids much before this. Jars that are sealed properly (the lids will fit tightly and you won't be able to indent the top) can be stored in a cool pantry for a year or so. Any that did not seal, must be refrigerated and used within 3 weeks.

6. If you do not wish to process the jam, cool to room temperature and freeze or refrigerate and use within 3 weeks.

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