Monday, October 1, 2007

Fig Preserves

David made two batches of fig preserves this week, which were really successful. The second batch he amended with a bit of maple syrup and some cracked black pepper - wow! They are insanely easy and would be great on toast, ice cream or yogurt, or a soft mild cheese.
There is probably no better known use for figs (as with most fruit) than as preserves. Debates between cooks continue on whether "real" fig preserves contain some citrus (we like it) and whether one should peel the figs (don't expect me to do it

Here's the classic guide:
Ratio: one cup sugar to one cup chopped fresh figs (it works the same for one pound of sugar to one pound of fresh figs; one palmful of sugar to one handful of figs -- you get the picture...)Grated lemon zest or finely sliced bits of lemon (the paper thin slices make the preserves delightfully like a marmalade - leave them out if this does not please you)

***Basic Directions: Cut up the figs as fine as you like. Mix the figs with the sugar and let rest in a covered plastic or glass container overnight. The next morning, cook the mixture down over very low heat until it is soft and thick. Spoon into hot canning jars and cover with lids you've had soaking in boiling (hot) water. The lids will seal as the jam cools. Refrigerate any jars that do not compress and seal.That's basically it and the recipe has been winning blue ribbons for generations. Everything else is the individual cook's imagination. We like it less sweet and cut back on the sugar. (We have not tried artificial sweetners or honey. Any reports from folks who have?) We have had this with a lot of citrus grated and sliced into it; with raisins cooked into it; with cinnamon and other spices. Be careful - the taste of the figs is rich but light and can be quickly overpowered. We recommend trying a straight batch first and then getting adventurous


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