Canning 102: Fig Jam
I live in a second floor apartment with no yard of my own to garden.
This is just my convenient excuse, though, since the truth is that I’m also lacking in the Green Thumb Department.
(What color is a thumb that’s pretty good at cooking but pretty hopeless at gardening? Aubergine? Sage? Burnt Sugar? Wine? I’ll stop now.)
My landlord, who’s hired a gardener to take care of his landscaping and fruit trees (!), lives below me on the first floor. (It’s really not as awkward as it sounds.)
He’s mentioned several times that I should feel free to help myself to some of the fruit. But I feel too guilty plundering the limited supply from his small fruit trees to really take him up on the offer. I think I’ve snacked on one guava, one clementine, and five figs since I moved in four years ago.
If only the small front yard fig tree produced a little more fruit, I would happily help myself to more of the juicy, tender, and enticing purple teardrops. Sadly, though, it seems to produce only about 15 figs a year. Either that or our neighbors steal them. But I don’t want to jump to any conclusions here…
Long story short, I went out and bought some figs to turn them into jam.
Why? You don’t need a reason to make fig jam! (Although I happen to have a recipe coming up that is nice with any type of jam, but simply heavenly with figs.)
So what about the “Canning 102” part?
Last summer I took a canning class and wrote about everything I learned in two recipe posts:
This summer I’ve done (more canning and) a self-assessment and decided that I’ve graduated from Canning 101 to 102; still a canning beginner, but also starting to get the hang of things…
So that’s what I’m aiming for with this recipe; it has more detailed instructions than any experienced canner would need, but it also assumes a little basic knowledge about home canning. (If you don’t have this basic knowledge, you can get it by reading my even more detailed post about Strawberry Jam.)
I adapted this recipe from the trusty Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving. It appealed to me for several reasons: 1) there are only four ingredients, 2) it’s a pectin-free recipe, and 3) figs!
Try it while the season lasts.
No-Pectin Fig Jam
Adapted from the Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving.
Makes 3 half-pint jars (1.5 pints)
(Note: Feel free to double or triple the recipe– I had to scale it back from the original Blue Book recipe that yields about 5 pints.)
~ 2 pounds of figs
~ 2 cups of sugar
~ ⅓ cup water
~ ⅛ cup lemon juice
Optional Special Equipment:
~ splatter screen
How to make it:
0. Extra steps if you’re planning to can the jam in a hot water bath: Set your canning bath water to boiling. Prepare three half pint jars (or more half pint or pint jars if you’re multiplying the recipe) by sterilizing the jars and lids; keep the jars hot in hot water, simmer the lids in a small saucepan for 10 minutes, then let stand in the hot water.
1. Wash figs, place them in a heat-resistant bowl, and bring a pot of water to boil. Pour boiling water over the figs to submerge them and let sit for 10 minutes. (At this point your house will already start to smell like fig jam!)
2. Remove figs from the hot water, de-stem, and chop them. (Optionally peel them at this point, too. I quartered them without peeling them, which resulted in a jam that still had large pieces of fruit throughout it, but I’d recommend peeling them if you want a smoother jam.)
3. You should have about ⅘ of a quart (or a little over 3 cups) of chopped figs. In a saucepan, combine the chopped figs, the sugar, and the water.
4. Slowly bring the contents of the saucepan to a boil, then keep at a strong simmer, stirring frequently to prevent sticking (you may want to use a splatter screen since the mixture will start to splatter more as it thickens). Simmer for 30-50 minutes– lowering the heat after the first 25-or-so minutes once it’s thickened a bit– until the mixture gels to your desired consistency. Then add lemon juice and cook for one more minute. Remove from heat.
5. Either let the jam cool before storing in the fridge, or if canning: Pour hot jam into clean, hot jars leaving 1/4-inch headspace, and remove air bubbles from around the walls of the jar. Cap jars with the sterilized lids, tightening the screw rings only until the jar below begins to turn as you’re twisting the ring above. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. Remove jars, keeping them upright. Make sure the lids have sealed and let cool for 24 hours.