How to Make Fig Jam

Ripe, plump figs are quite possibly the world's most succulent fruit, with a naturally honey-like sweetness. Cooked down, they make a marvelous jam that intensifies that sweetness. In fact, fig jam is so easy, figs practically jam themselves. When the trees are giving their all, grab them at their peak and get jamming.

Start with about 5 pounds of fresh figs. Brown Turkey and Black Mission figs work best for this recipe, but any fig will do. Chop the figs coarsely, and add them to a large non-reactive saucepan, like enamel or stainless steel. Do not use aluminum. Add 6 cups of granulated white sugar, then toss to combine. Cover and let stand, refrigerated, for at least a few hours or overnight. The figs will naturally release some of their juices.

Place the pot on the stove and place on medium-low heat. Bring the figs to a boil slowly, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar and prevent scorching on the bottom. Raise the heat and cook briskly until the jam thickens and cascades from a spatula in sheets. Add 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice. At this point, if desired, add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir to combine, and cook another minute longer.

Ladle the jam into hot sterilized jars. At this point the jam can be left to cool, then covered and stored in the refrigerator for up to one month. It can also be canned using the standard water-bath canning method.

Process your jars for 10 minutes in boiling water at sea level. Remove the jars, and allow them to cool. Leave the jars undisturbed for 12 hours. Remove the rings, label the jars and store them in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

Enjoy your fig jam on sandwiches, or use it as a sweet complement to both creamy and sharp cheeses. It also makes a lovely condiment for pork, and it can be stuffed inside pork or chicken roulades.

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