Back in September when we visited Leicester botanical gardens hidden amongst the grounds and sculptures we spotted a fig tree, bursting with almost ripe figs. The smell was amazing, it took me straight back to childhood holidays spent in Spain and really got me thinking about how to make the most of them when, a few weeks later they would appear in the shops ripe and ready for eating.
Figs are one of my favourite autumn fruits. They are so versatile; great for baking, preserving, eating just as they are with a good cheese or for breakfast with honey, yoghurt and maybe a little granola. Their season here in the UK is short, just from September to October, so this year I thought i’d try preserving them to make them last a little longer. I’ve never tried making fig jam before but I have to say this is now my favourite fig recipe, i’d hoped to make enough to last through the winter but we’ve already worked our way through a couple of jars and the remaining few set aside for Christmas presents may not make it through to December!
Here’s how you make it……
Figs can be expensive so do hunt around for the cheapest. I bought mine from Aldi for a very reasonable price, B also spotted some at Leicester market, 10 for £1 so it’s definitely worth shopping around. Look for figs that are plump, soft and rich purple in colour with unbroken skins. If you can’t get hold of a kilo of figs substitute some for cooking apples to bulk up the fruit.
To prepare the figs cut off and discard the tough stalk and cut into halves, then cut each half into quarters. Place the figs, sugar, thyme and lemon zest into the pan with a little water. Gentry heat the fruit so the sugar melts then bring the mix up to the boil. Simmer gently, stirring occasionally until the temperature reaches 104°C on a jam thermometer. whilst the jam comes up to temperature prepare the spices by toasting them over a gentle heat for a couple of minutes to release the flavour. Grind the pieces in a pestle and mortar then set aside to cool. Once the jam has reached the correct temperature add the ground spices and lemon juice and stir through.
Pour the hot mixture into sterilised jars, place silicone paper onto the top of the jam to seal then screw the lids tightly onto the jars. Set aside to cool. The jam will last 6-8 months if stored in a cool dry place.
The fig jam is delicious spread onto warm toast for breakfast, but our favourite way to eat it is spread on warm sourdough with plenty of Cropwell Bishop stilton