Figs by D.H. Lawrence
The proper way to eat a fig, in society,
Is to split it in four, holding it by the stump,
And open it, so that it is a glittering, rosy, moist, honied, heavy-petalled four-petalled flower.
Figs. In the Okanagan. For an all too brief moment, locally grown figs present themselves. They are beautiful, succulent and fragile. Yes, it is possible to grow fig trees here. Possible for some but for me…impossible. I have bought and killed several fig trees. I think they need a lot more care and love than I give them. However, I dream of figs and fig trees and I promise myself that I will try again.
Figs do not keep well so they need to be eaten immediately or preserved somehow. There are recipes making jam using dried figs – I have made such jams myself. I suppose, it might be considered sacrilege to turn fresh figs into jam. They demand to be eaten fresh. However, with the season so fleeting and with my passion to preserve, what is a girl to do?
If your knowledge of figs lends itself only to those dried out, turd-like figs threaded on a string and imported from Greece, or, even worse, the Fig Newton cookie please, please, please try a fresh, ripe fig. Somewhere in my collection of recipes I actually have a recipe for Fig Newton cookies (or rolls as they were originally known). Truth to tell, I like Fig Newtons. As a child, I thought it a sophisticated, grown up cookie. When I actually baked home-made fig rolls, my sister (the crabby one and not a lover of the humble Newton) said, “Jaysus, what kind of kook spends all day making something that tastes like a Fig Newton?
What follows is a very simple recipe. It only makes four (4) one cup jars of delicious, delightful fig jam. I prefer not to make my jams to “tight” or stiff like most commercial jams. Jam making is very easy to do. It shouldn’t seem like a huge undertaking. This jam, including 10 minutes in a water bath, took about an hour to make from start to finish. I am not going to go into detail about jam making here. There are plenty of good preserving books spelling out the intricacies of preserving.
Fig Jam with Red Wine Vinegar and Star Anise
(makes 4 x 250 ml jars)
1 cup red wine vinegar
3 cups sugar
4 star anise, whole (if using)
1. Tail figs, slice into quarters and put into a large pot with vinegar and star anise.
2. Cook slowly over low heat until the figs break down. Add sugar and raise heat. Don’t leave the kitchen right now. When the figs come to a rolling boil, lower the heat but maintain the boil stirring frequently. It should take about 30 minutes to reach the setting point. Give or take.
3. While the jam is bubbling away, sterilize jars and lids and keep them in hot water until ready to use.
4. Remove star anise (it is not too difficult to see). Ladle hot jam into jars, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
Now…that wasn’t too difficult was it. In deepest, darkest January when you spread fig jam on your morning toast, you will be transported back to that day when you ate a fresh fig!
What you accomplish with the recipes I share with you is what makes me eager to share more. Thank you for following!