How to Make Fig Jam

A step-by-step guide to an easy and versatile jam.

July 18, 2023
Fig jam in a jar. Homemade fruit jam

Fig-jam-in-jar

Fig jam in a jar. Homemade fruit jam

Photo by: Elmik/Getty Images

Elmik/Getty Images

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By Alice K. Thompson for Food Network Kitchen

Alice is a contributing writer and editor at Food Network.

Ripe, plump figs are among the world's most succulent fruits, with honey-like flavor and lush flesh. Cooking them into jam highlights their natural sweetness and delicious floral and earthy notes. In fact, fig jam is so easy you'll mostly need to just sit back and let the fruit do its thing. When the trees are giving their all — June through September in most of the United States — grab them at their peak and get jamming. Here’s how to make fig jams in three easy steps — or six steps, if you prefer to can them for the long haul.

How to Make Fig Jam or Preserves

This recipe uses whole fruit that’s roughly chopped, so you can call it either jam or preserves. The jam will keep refrigerated for 1 month, and the whole process will take you less than an hour of hands-on time (though macerating the fruit and cooling the jam adds several hours).

Want to can the jam for longer-term storage? Read through the entire recipe first, gather your ingredients and follow the steps exactly. Although home canning isn’t difficult, you’ll need a morning or afternoon after macerating the fruit to complete each step sequentially. Learn more in A Beginner’s Guide to Canning.

Step 1: Prepare the Fruit

Start with about 5 pounds of fresh ripe figs. Brown Turkey and Black Mission figs work best for this recipe, but any fresh fig will do.

Rinse and chop the figs. Place in a large bowl or basin and cover with boiling water. Let sit 10 minutes. Drain and chop them coarsely, trimming any tough stems.

Sweeten the fruit. Place figs in a large nonreactive saucepan, such as enamel or stainless steel. Do not use aluminum. Add 6 cups of granulated sugar and toss to combine.

Refrigerate. Cover and refrigerate for at least a few hours or overnight. The figs will naturally release some of their juices.

Step 2: Cook the Jam

Bring to a boil. Place the pan on the stovetop over medium-low heat. Bring the figs to a boil slowly, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar and prevent scorching on the bottom.

Simmer. Raise the heat and simmer briskly until the jam thickens and cascades from a spatula in sheets.

Season. Add 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice. At this point, if desired, add 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract. Stir to combine and cook 1 minute longer.

Step 3: Fill Your Jars

Ladle into jars. Ladle the jam into hot sterilized jars and wipe the rims. (You can use any type of airtight jar for refrigerator jam, but you must use mason-style jars with new lids and screw bands for canned jam.)

Cool and store. Let the jars cool, and then cover them, label with the date and refrigerate for up to a month. For longer storage, follow the standard water-bath canning method below.

How to Home-Can Fig Jam

If you plan to can this jam, have sterilized pint or half-pint jars in hot water and new tops and screw bands in a bowl of hot water. Get a water-bath canner ready with very hot water. Follow all instructions exactly.

Step one: Ladle into jars. Ladle the hot jam into the hot sterilized jars. Run a clean knife or chopstick through the jar to release any air bubbles, then add more jam if necessary so that there is 1/4 inch of headspace at the top. Wipe the rims of the jars clean with a damp towel.

Step two: Close carefully. Place lids on top. Add the screw bands and tighten just until finger-tight (gently but securely with the tips of your fingers, not forcefully with your whole hand).

Step three: Add to canner. Lower the jars with jar tongs into the hot water in the canner. Make sure the tops of the jars are covered by 1 inch of water. Bring to a boil and process your jars for 10 minutes in boiling water at sea level or up to 1,000 feet above. (For high-altitude, consult the instructions for your canner or see the Cook’s Note in this recipe.)

Step four: Let sit and cool. Turn off the heat and allow the jars to sit in the water 5 minutes. Lift the jars out of the water with a jar lifter and let cool on a kitchen towel or rack set over a towel undisturbed for 12 hours.

Step five: Test the seals. Remove the rings and test the seals by lifting the jars by the lids. If the seal isn't secure on any of your jars you can refrigerate them and use the jam within 1 week.

Step six: Store. Label the jars with the contents and date and store them in a cool, dark place for up to one year.

How to Use Fig Jam

Bring your fig jam out for sandwiches: It’s excellent as a spread with sliced turkey or ham and creamy or sharp cheeses. There’s few cheeses that figs don’t love, so the jam is a favorite condiment on a cheese plate or charcuterie board. It's also a classic to serve alongside pork, it can be stuffed inside pork or chicken roulades and makes an excellent sauce or glaze for ham or duck. If you’re baking, consider using it where you would use other jams or preserves: In Linzer cookies, rugalach, fruit bars and thumbprint cookies, to name a few.

Need more inspiration? Food journalist and cookbook author J.M. Hirsch shared some other ideas:

Make the best grilled cheese ever. Slap some Cheddar, a bit of sliced ham or prosciutto and some fig jam between slices of sourdough, then toast until oozy and crisp.

Puree about 1/3 to 1/2 cup of fig jam with a bottle of your favorite barbecue sauce. Use as you normally would, basting proteins or vegetables toward the end of grilling.

Speaking of the grill, top a burger with a spoonful of fig jam and some crumbled blue cheese. Continue grilling until the cheese just softens, then slap in a bun and enjoy – no condiments needed.

Rub some fig jam under the skin of a chicken or turkey before roasting.

For an easy appetizer, top thin slices of apple or pear with shavings of Parmesan cheese, then top with a dollop of fig jam and some black pepper.

Spread a thin layer of fig jam over a raw pizza crust. Top with chopped prosciutto and Gorgonzola, and then bake. Serve sprinkled with fresh oregano.

Substitute fig jam for the apricot jam called for in many sweet-and-sour chicken or pork recipes.

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