Making Fig Jam

Didn’t expect this, did you? Well I happened to receive a quantity of figs yesterday. They were very small and ripe, so action was called for. Fig jam is incredibly easy to make since you don’t have to worry about gelling like you do with most fruit jams. Figs are plenty thick and sugary in their natural state. The only issue you have with figs is — depending on how large they are — softening their thick skins. These were small and ripe so they didn’t need much softening. I had just 1 1/2 pounds.

I put them in a medium saucepan with the zest and juice of half a lemon…

…then gave them a brief mash (you don’t have to do this if you’d rather have more of a “preserve” with large pieces of fruit).

I added 1 cup of sugar and brought the whole thing to a simmer over medium heat, then turned the heat down to low.

The jam should simmer for at least fifteen minutes, but can go for up to an hour of the skins are really thick.

Simmer the jam until it reaches the thickness you want. Once the skins are soft, dribble a little onto a plate that’s been in the freezer for a while and is good and cold. Let it sit for 1 minute, and decide if it’s thick enough. If not, keep simmering…but be careful not to reduce it to glue!

This jam can be canned according to the directions in the techniques menu. Alternately it can be frozen in small plastic freezer bags for up to six months.

This recipe can be doubled to:

3 pounds ripe figs
2 cups sugar
zest and juice of 1 lemon

Use a large pot for this size batch.

17 thoughts on “Making Fig Jam”

  1. My grandparents had a fig tree in their backyard. I got an offshoot from it and planted it in my backyard. Now I have my own figs. Granddaddy use to make fig preserves. He washed the figs and filled his “collard pot”, the biggest pot he had. As he put in the figs, he layered it with sugar. He let this set overnight. In the morning he put them on to cook, low and slow all day. He never stirred them, as this broke them up. He liked them whole with the syrup they would make. I liked the fig syrup, better than the figs. On day my aunt came in and stirred the pot. Granddaddy was so upset with her. My granny would make “pan toast”, a slice of buttered bread cooked in a cast iron skillet. She would give it to me with the syrup. It was so good. 🙂 🙂 🙂

    1. I called my mother’s father “Granddaddy” too, that word brings back very pleasant memories.

      What a fantastic way to make a jam! A great way to slowly soften the skins. I’ll try that if I get any more figs this season!

      – Joe

  2. Any recipe suggestions for fig jam? I have oodles of fig preserves from one of my aunts, very yummy but a little goes a loooong way because it’s so sweet, so I’m trying to come up with a way to honor her preserves and share them before they go moldy…

    1. Mrs. Pastry is the fig jam nut in the house. She loves it with cheese (especially Manchego), but just about any white cheese. She’ll just eat the two together, though last night she made grilled cheese and fig jam sandwiches…which were terrific. Other than that she incorporates it into ice cream. I’ll bake it into cookies (like Kolaches) and use it as a filling for all sorts of things.

      – Joe

      1. Yes, Beemster cheese is the classic pairing for fig jam, which together also go well with some water crackers, either plain or even those with a bit of pepper in them. Once I start with the fig jam and Beemster, I just can’t stop!

    2. Brenda. My mother made the best fig preserves and I use her recipe and it has never failed me. She did a cup of figs (packed tightly) to a cup of white sugar in a heavy 6 quart pot with a sliced lemon. She let it sit all night and in the morning she cooked it till it would be the right consistency by testing it on a cold plate she had put in the freezer. When it was right, she took out the lemon rind and starting putting it in the jars. She always put in a water bath for about 10 minutes for pints.

  3. How come Americans always want to “can” or freeze jam? It has enough sugar in it that nothing will grow. We always just pour it into hot jars and cover it with either cellophane covers or screw tops, both of which become concave when the jam cools showing that they’re sealed. Keeps for years.

    1. Hey Bronwyn!

      Found this and a couple of older comments in my spam file…no idea why.

      We call that the “open kettle method”, and while quite a few people practice it, the health & safety powers that be actively discourage it. I myself remember getting preserves from my old neighborhood that were under layers of paraffin. I always thought that was extremely cool. But as for the reason it’s so heavily discouraged here in the states, I suppose it’s because it’s been clinically shown not 100% protective against bacteria. We live in an extremely litigious society here…jar and lid manufacturers are probably just afraid of getting sued!

      – Joe

  4. Joe, I just made this because the fig tree in our yard is overflowing with fruit. It’s funny how they all ripen at once! Anyway the jam is great and will remind me in the winter that the sun does shine sometimes. Thanks for sharing the recipe!

  5. I was wondering if you know which type of figs make the best tasting preserve/jam. Also if their is a company that will send you those type of figs if they aren’t available in my city. Thanks and I am going to try your recipe and probably use the idea of letting it sit overnight with sugar.

    1. Hey S.S.! I wish I had a good answer for you. I generally just take whatever I can get, either from friends with fig trees or from whatever market I can find that stocks figs. I haven’t been disappointed yet!

      Best of luck,

      – Joe

  6. When picking figs off my tree,there’s a white liquid that coms out of the stem. Is it harmful?

    1. Hi Mary!

      From what I’ve been told, that milky liquid is an indication that the figs aren’t ripe. Apparently the liquid can also be a skin irritant, so it’s best to let to the fruit ripen a bit more before harvest!


      – Joe

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