Twice a year, early summer and fall, figs ripen on the trees. It’s a short harvest season so if you’re not careful, you could miss it. It’s estimated there are over 700 varieties. Technically, a fig is an inverted flower but it’s been classified as a fruit because of taste and texture. The trees are drought-tolerant and can grow as high at 30 feet.
Preserves are one of the many ways figs are utilized. They really have a great texture for the process and can be mixed with many other flavors including vanilla, orange and strawberry.
This recipe was created by Los Angeles chef, Rebecca Aldana. As a gardener, Aldana uses her personally grown seasonal produce to add flavor to client dishes.
She has broken down this recipe into simple steps for us. The idea of making preserves from scratch can be overwhelming but step outside of your comfort zone and give it a try.
My personal favorite is with brandy.
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Fig and Orange Preserves
Rebecca Aldana is a professional chef and gardener living in Los Angeles.
- 4 cups fresh figs (Brown, Mission, Turkish, etc), about two dry pints
- 2 cups water
- 2 cups granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons Tawny Port or Brandy
- 1 organic orange
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- 1 cinnamon stick
Rinse figs, cut off stems and cut into desired chunks. I like mine bigger but if you prefer a jam-like texture, cut them to ¼” chunks. Toss into a 3-quart saucepan.
Rinse and dry the orange. Use a fine grater to remove the rind. You should have at least 2 teaspoons. Toss into pot.
Remove remaining peel and as much of the pith and skin as you prefer. Cut the orange into chunks and toss into pot.
Add sugar, water, port or brandy, lemon juice, cinnamon and a pinch of salt into pot.
Cook on medium heat until bubbling and liquid has reduced into a jammy consistency.
Figs have natural pectin so no additional fruit pectin is needed.
Depending on the heat of your burner, it should take 30-60 minutes to cook.
Stir occasionally to prevent preserves from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Reduce heat, if the water is evaporating too quickly.
I use an enameled cast iron pot but any non-reactive pot with a heavier bottom will work.
If you have a candy thermometer, make sure the temperature reaches 220. Then it is done.
This should make about four small jams jars or about 4 cups.
You can sterilize jars and lids by boiling them in water for 10 minutes or longer and process them for canning and storing them in the pantry, or store the preserves in glass containers in the fridge for up to a month.
You can also halve this recipe. If you can’t find fresh figs, dried figs work just as well. Boil the 2 cups of water and soak the figs over night or 4-6 hours. Use the same water for the recipe. You may want to reduce the sugar by ¼ cup or so. You won’t have that same fresh fig bite but it’s still really tasty. The recipe may be made without the Port or Brandy.