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Canning 102: Fig Jam

September 10, 2012

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:

> Canning 101: Strawberry Jam
> Canning 101: Pickled Green Beans

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.

Print this recipe.


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.

Print this recipe!

Related recipe posts:
> Fig and Walnut Balsamic Vinaigrette
> Canning 101: Strawberry Jam
> Rhubarb Birthday Galette

46 Comments leave one →
  1. Donna permalink
    September 10, 2012 9:12 am

    Sounds like these would make ideal gifts…hint, hint.

  2. September 10, 2012 9:56 am

    Looks and sounds great!

  3. September 10, 2012 11:02 am

    I would have helped myself :D. I always think fig jam looks so delightfully beautiful with the little seeds – wonderful.

    • September 10, 2012 11:55 am

      I think so, too! I love the look (and taste) of fig jam and raspberry jam with all the little seeds (ok, and–seedless– apricot jam), more than any other kinds.

  4. September 10, 2012 11:07 am

    Yum! I bet this would be amazing on a slice of Paula’s baguette… :)

    • September 10, 2012 11:56 am

      Yes! Exactly. And amazing on her more-amazing (I’ve decided) ciabatta bread, which appears in one of the pictures above :)

  5. September 10, 2012 12:10 pm

    I was on a canning marathon in May/ June. I have slowed down a bit, your post has brought back the energy to make another batch and this time with figs. I love figs and recently I made pizza with procitto and figs and mozarella cheese. Total YUM!

    • September 13, 2012 8:31 am

      Yay! That’s nice to hear, and that pizza combination sounds absolutely delicious.

  6. September 10, 2012 12:34 pm

    I have yet to try fig jam but your recipe and photos say it should be at the top of the list :D

    Choc Chip Uru

    • September 11, 2012 8:51 am

      Yes, you should try it! Especially because I think it would blend in sooooo well among a variety of cakes and desserts (especially desserts that involve cheese)…

  7. September 10, 2012 12:39 pm

    Looks great! I love fig preserves!

  8. September 10, 2012 1:32 pm

    I should add canning my own jam to the bucket list. You are too nice of a person. I would helped myself to all the fruit I wanted. I would have left one or two figs!

    • September 11, 2012 8:55 am

      Haha, well actually this year they hadn’t quite come in to my landlord’s tree yet when I typed up this post a few days ago, but then yesterday morning I noticed that about 10 had turned from green to purple! Maybe his tree produces more than I thought… so yep, I think I’ll up the number of figs I help myself to just a bit, you know, to stick with the same ratio… :)

      And canning is definitely a culinary bucket list-type venture, but I’m so glad I’ve learned how to do it! (Even more for the pickling than for the jamming!)

  9. September 10, 2012 7:22 pm

    I want to smother this on brie, bread…my fingers and eat til I drop =D

    • September 11, 2012 8:57 am

      Ok, just because you hit the nail on the head, I will reveal (to you only ;) the heavenly fig jam recipe that I mentioned will be coming up on my blog… it’s my little sister’s recipe for gooey baked brie wrapped in buttery phyllo dough and spread with fig jam (inside the phyllo dough), all to then spread onto toasted fresh bread slices. …coming up soon!

  10. littlefashionistas permalink
    September 11, 2012 4:46 am

    Very yummy! I love figs, I use also for the salad and is very good the mix of salty and sweet ;-)

    • September 11, 2012 8:58 am

      Thanks! I absolutely love figs in salads, too. My favorite is arugula with figs and walnuts. I almost posted about that salad on my blog, but instead I posted about a Fig and Walnut Balsamic Vinaigrette salad dressing. Also a great flavor combination :)

      • littlefashionistas permalink
        September 11, 2012 9:22 am

        That sounds yummy! my favourite is with mozarella ;-)

      • September 11, 2012 9:57 am

        Oo, that sounds great, too!

  11. September 11, 2012 6:53 am

    This is awesome!

    I’ve only tried canning once (with homemade marmalade) and I really thoroughly enjoyed the process. Have been waiting for winter in Buenos Aires to end so I can have cheaper access to fresh fruits like strawberries in order to make strawberry jam, but honestly I have never really thought about using figs to make jam until I saw this post!! Will try to make it one day!!!

    Thanks again!!


    • September 11, 2012 9:00 am

      Thanks! I’m so glad you got to see this post, then, since fig jam is one of my favorites. I hope you get a chance to make it sometime soon! :)

  12. September 11, 2012 6:07 pm

    Ooh, this looks good. I’ve been itching to make some sort of jam or preserves (maybe it’s the cool fall weather finally hitting DC), and this recipe looks fab! Thanks for the tips on jarring and jamming.

    • September 12, 2012 8:41 pm

      Thanks! You should totally do it! Now’s the perfect time actually– while the fruit is still in season but once your kitchen’s no longer so hot that a boiling water bath for canning is the last thing you want bubbling away on your stove.

      (Also of course making jam can be even easier if you don’t preserve it by water bath canning; you can always make just a small batch, and funnel it into a jars to keep in the fridge or give away as gifts to friends who will also start enjoying it right away. It won’t last as long, but then again sometimes that’s not the point!)

  13. September 11, 2012 8:22 pm

    Wow!! What a lovely bundle of figs you’ve got, perfectly ripe by the looks of it! I found some here but they felt mushy to touch.. although maybe they should? I’m not used to figs:) I’m happy to say I know a bit more about canning now and would love to try this recipe, I would love it I’m certain!

    • September 12, 2012 8:46 pm

      They were perfectly ripe! The figs should definitely be soft and tender (they almost feel heavier with juiciness when they’re really ripe), but shouldn’t actually reach the point of mushiness or bruising (you really wouldn’t want to can with fruit that’s gotten bruised anyway). If they’re still mostly perfect looking but have also become juicy, sweet, and easy to bite through, then that’s when you know they’re just the right ripeness for making fig jam.

  14. September 11, 2012 8:36 pm

    How I love fig jam….let me count the ways.

    Particuarly on a grilled flatbread, with a little gorgonzola and prosciutto…YUM!

    • September 12, 2012 8:47 pm

      Oo that sounds good! Feel free to keep those suggestions coming about how I should use up my fig jam! ;) I’ve already used half a jar, and I’m giving one jar away, so that leaves me with a jar and a half to work with… and by work with, I mean eat.

  15. September 12, 2012 10:15 am

    Nice! We will be making fig jam once ours ripen (soon)…will try!

    • September 12, 2012 8:51 pm

      Wonderful! I didn’t dwell on this above, but this jam is pretty sweet! So you could always add the sugar incrementally (while taste-testing) if you wanted a little less sweetness; there’s no pectin to rely on the sugar content to gel. I bet your figs ripen very soon– the ones on my landlord’s tree just started ripening on Monday!

  16. September 12, 2012 10:32 am

    Glad you took matters into your own hands and bought some figs to jam. Good jam really is so much more than just a method of preservation, so it’s worth any of the hoops we black-thumbed gardeners must jump through!

    • September 12, 2012 8:58 pm

      True! I’m really enjoying making jams now. Next summer– once I consider myself graduated from Canning 101 and 102– I hope to deviate even more from cookbook jam recipes and mix in extra flavors that pair well with fruit, like vanilla, lavender, and ginger.

      Oh and it’s always somehow reassuring to learn of other food bloggers who are also black-thumbed gardeners :) Though I think my balcony’s plant cemetery has no rivals.

  17. Nami | Just One Cookbook permalink
    September 12, 2012 1:14 pm

    I used to dislike figs while growing up and always wondered why my mom loved this weird texture fruit. Then, after I became adult and can appreciate different kinds of food, I got hooked on anything with figs! Homemade fig jam must be AMAZING! I bought fig butter from trader joes, but I know it’s nothing similar. I can’t wait to see what you used for with this jam!

    • September 12, 2012 9:02 pm

      I know what you mean! Figs have a pretty strange texture (and actually look pretty weird inside, too). We always had dried figs in our house growing up, but never fresh ones, and the dried ones were way too seedy, saccharine, and chewy for my taste, so I thought I didn’t like figs, but the fresh ones are so completely different and delicious!

      Have you tried making my Fig and Walnut salad dressing using that Fig Butter from Trader Joe’s yet? This jam is too thick, lumpy, and sweet to use in that salad dressing– instead I plan to use in mainly on toast and in desserts! :)

  18. October 3, 2012 11:18 pm

    A very tasty fig jam, lucky you! My fig tree has only produced 15 ripe figs & there are still about 150 on the tree but they won’t ripe anymore because it is too cold: ( sigh!

    • October 4, 2012 8:32 am

      Oh no, that’s too bad! But I’m sure you have treasured and enjoyed those 15 figs… I wonder if you can do something with still-unripe figs like you could with tomatoes… maybe pickle them whole?!

  19. itselliewellie permalink
    October 5, 2012 7:38 pm

    This jam looks gorgeous! Never thought of doing fig jam before.

    • October 6, 2012 7:51 pm

      Thanks! It’s definitely become one of my favorite types of jam, and it’s pretty easy to make, too!


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