Making jam is one of our favorite ways to enjoy summer fruit all year round. Making fig jam is an effort to capture a passing moment in summer’s short glory. Figs flourish for a brief time in the American South, as they do in other warm climates.
Picked at their peak, figs will keep overnight, but not longer. Take care to select figs that are richly colored, already soft, but not bruised. Darker figs (such as Black Mission figs, which grow primarily in California) tend to last longer than the lighter-skinned varieties.
To enjoy, spread fig jam on a sandwich with country ham and goat cheese, or serve alongside a cheese platter.
Makes 2½ pints
3 pounds just-ripe figs
2 scant cups turbinado, demerara, or organic sugar
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
Zest of ½ lemon (optional)
Trim the stem end from the figs, quarter them and then cut the quarters crosswise to produce a textured but manageable jam.
Combine the fruit, sugar, lemon juice and zest, if using, in a mixing bowl. Stir to combine, then cover closely and place in the refrigerator for a few hours or overnight.
Turn the fruit and sugar mixture into a preserving pan and bring to a rapid boil. Stirring constantly, reduce over high heat until the hot jam is thickened, 6 to 8 minutes; then lower the heat to medium and reduce a few more minutes to the gel point.
Ladle into five prepared ½-pint jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Seal and process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.
Adapted from Saving the Season by Kevin West