Sunday, September 16, 2012

Easy (Easiest) Fig Preserves

Jam is an ideal way to use up fruit that is too ripe or not ripe enough. In this case, over ripe times 10. As I was washing and cutting the delicate figs, some had to be tossed. Cringe. 

If you're new to making jams and jellies, hop on the figs preserve train. You only need 1 pound, or 1 package, some sugar, and some lemon juice. Fruit has pectin (the binding goop) and figs have a little more than normal to hold it all together. Bonus: compared to hours for canning jam, fig preserves only take about a half hour. It's far easier than more traditional preserve processes. 

Preserves by definition are always made with the whole fruit. Some nutrients will get lost, but you'll still have the beneficial fiber. In comparison, I recommend staying away from jelly or marmalade. Jelly is only the juice of the fruit and marmalade is the juice plus a couple slivers of the rind and why you'll only see marmalade with citrus fruits. No real nutrients, just sugar. 
This version gets nice and chunky, perfect for topping whole grain bread or bagels. Cut the figs in eighths if you want smoother preserves. It will make about 1 and 1/2 cups and should be consumed in a couple of weeks. If you don't think you'll consume within that time, freeze in an airtight container once cooled and add another 1/2 tablespoon of lemon juice to maintain the color. Depending on how long you leave it there, it might be dulled when you thaw. Other than that, the flavor will still be incredible. 

Easiest Fig Preserves
makes 1 1/2 cup

1 pound black mission figs (or use any variety you prefer)
1 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 cup sugar

1. De-stem, wash, and cut figs in fourths. Toss into small sauce pan. Add in sugar and lemon juice. 
2. Simmer on low heat for about 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to help the figs release their juice, blend together, and prevent sticking to the pan. If your mixture is extra liquidy, cook on a slightly higher heat. 
3. Cool and transfer to an airtight container and store in the fridge (or freezer).

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