Special equipment: 8-ounce canning jars with lids and bands; canning pot or other large pot with a lid; canning rack or other rack that fits inside the pot; saucepan; jar lifter or tongs; kitchen towels
Bring 1 pound chopped fresh figs, 1 1/2 cups sugar, the seeds from 1/2 vanilla bean and a pinch of salt to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat and stir until the sugar melts. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until a drop of the mixture sets on a chilled plate, about 20 minutes. Remove from the heat. Stir in 1 tablespoon each lemon juice and ruby port, and a pinch of pepper. Fill sterilized jars, leaving a 1/2-inch headspace, then seal and process (see Cook's Note) for 15 minutes. Serve this with goat cheese, prosciutto and crackers.
Photograph by Kang Kim
How to Process Jam Jars 1. Using a clean spoon, fill the sterilized jars with hot jam, taking the required headspace into account. 2. Stir with a clean small spatula to eliminate any air pockets, then wipe the rims clean with a damp paper towel. (Any residual stickiness or seeds will affect the seal.) 3. Place sterilized lids on the jars. Screw on the sterilized bands until snug. Place a rack in the bottom of a pot, then fill halfway with water, cover and bring to a gentle boil. 4. Using a jar lifter, lower the sealed jars into the pot. The water must cover the jars by 1 inch (add boiling water, if needed). Cover the pot and process for 15 minutes. 5. Turn off the heat and uncover the pot; let the jars sit in the water for 5 minutes, then remove to a kitchen towel with a jar lifter. Let cool at room temperature, 12 to 24 hours. 6. Check the seal: The lids should be flat. Sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for a year. (Refrigerate after opening.) If they've popped, you can keep the jam in the fridge for up to 1 week.
Properly handled sterilized equipment will keep canned foods in good condition for one year. Making sure hands, equipment and surfaces in your canning area are clean is the first step in canning. Tips: Jars should be made from glass and free of any chips or cracks. Preserving or canning jars are topped with glass, plastic or metal lids that have a rubberlike seal. Two-piece metal lids are most common. To prepare jars before filling: Wash jars with hot, soapy water, rinse them well and arrange them open-side up, without touching, on a tray. To sterilize jars, boil them in a large saucepan, covered with water, for 10 minutes. Jars have to be sterilized only if the food to be preserved will be processed for less than 10 minutes in a boiling-water bath or pressure canner. To sterilize jars, boil them in a large saucepan, covered with water, for 10 minutes. Follow manufacturer's instructions for cleaning and preparing lids and bands. Use tongs or jar lifters to remove hot sterilized jars from the boiling water. Be sure the tongs are sterilized too: Dip the tong ends in boiling water for a few minutes before using them. All items used in the process of making jams, jellies, preserves and pickles must be clean, including any towels and especially your hands. After the jars are prepared, you can preserve the food. It is important to follow any canning and processing instructions included in the recipe and refer to USDA guidelines about the sterilization of canned products. Find Information information on canning can be found at the National Center for Home Food Preservation website: http://nchfp.uga.edu/.
Recipe courtesy Food Network Magazine