Figs are such a delicate thing. They’re soft and tender, and because of their fragile nature it’s nearly impossible to ship them without damage. Fresh and plump, they hit the shelves for only about a month before vanishing. While they’re here, they’re mild, sweet, and floral… delicate in flavor, as well as form. It was my goal this summer to capture those flavors, preserve them, and make them shine.
Enter, Honey. Sweet and floral also, they make the perfect couple.
On their own, figs are almost too mellow to fully appreciate. Their flavor is sweet, but fleeting… and while one of the best ways to enjoy them is fresh, with honey or cheese on the side, I find that with just a touch of heat they come alive with a whole new dimension. The supple fruit seemingly melts into a rich, sweet spread. Properly canned and sealed, a jar can last as much as six months or more, staving off the winter blues until next year.
Honey’d Fig Preserves
Makes ~2 cups
1 lb. black mission figs (I’m sure Turkish or other varieties would work as well)
1 TBSP fresh lemon juice
3 TBSP honey
1/4 cup granulated sugar
Gently wash and stem the figs. Cut them in half, or quarters, and add them to a small sauce pan. Add the remaining ingredients, and stir to combine. Let the figs macerate for 10-15 minutes before continuing.
Set the figs over low to medium heat, and let cook for 7-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the fruit has begun to break down. Using a potato masher, or the back o a spoon, smash the figs to desired consistency.
Reduce the heat to low, and continue to cook for another 7-10 minutes, or until the jam has thickened to your liking. To test whether the jam is gelling, keep a spoon in the freezer. Take a small scoop of jam, and let it cool on the spoon. If it’s still too runny, simmer a little longer and test again.
Spoon preserves into freshly sterilized jars, and seal tightly. Process in a canner, or a water bath, and set aside to cool. Properly sealed jars should be stored in a cool dark place for up to several months, and open jars in the fridge for up to a few weeks.
A friend of mine once said, ‘I can hardly even look at honey without getting some on my elbow!’ After this photoshoot, I can attest – honey has a way of getting places it was never intended. I’m still wiping it off my camera equipment…