Preserve the Season

Fig Jam Recipe

fig jam

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.

Fig Jam
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

Preserve the Season

Canning: Peach Jam

Canning is one of the best ways to preserve the season.

With stone fruits and berries now at the peak of flavor at the farmers’ market, making jam is one of our favorite ways to enjoy summer fruit all year round. All it takes is ripe fruit, some sugar, and a wide pot for cooking.

The hot water bath method laid out here eliminates most of the factors necessary for microorganisms to thrive and stabilizes flavorful jams, jellies, preserves, and chutneys. We particularly love preserving the ripest peaches, the signature fruits of summer!

While canning at home can seem intimidating to beginners, there are really only a few pieces of equipment you need to get started.

Don’t be daunted! Give it a try. And then, like all good things — try again.

You’re guaranteed to have sweet memories of summer for winter’s darkest days.

Essential Tools for Canning

  • Lightweight aluminum canner and canning rack
  • Wide-spout stainless steel canning funnel. This helps to ensure that your mixture makes it into the jar, not on the sides, when canning.
  • Canning jar lifter tongs: A worthwhile investment as they’re much safer than tongs when lifting hot, slippery jars.
  • Canning jars: Use ones with a vacuum seal to keep bacteria at bay.
  • Ladle

Tips to Get Started

The hot water bath method is a safe and easy method of preservation that eliminates unwanted microorganisms.

To use a hot water bath, place jars in a water bath and cover them completely with water. When the water is at a rolling boil, cook for 10 minutes to sterilize the jars. Once they have “cooked,” place the jars upside down on the counter on a clean, dry tea towel, but keep the water bath boiling. Meanwhile, prepare the jam.

Once the jam is ready, use a funnel to fill the jars, leaving a quarter inch or less of headspace at the top of each jar. Take a damp paper towel and wipe the rim of each jar clean. Place the lid on top and, using the jar lifter, place the jars right side up back in the water bath, taking care to make sure they are covered by at least one inch of boiling water.

Boil the jars for 10 minutes then turn off the heat and allow the jars to sit in the water for an additional 10 minutes. Remove the jars using the lifter and let them rest on a countertop for at least 12 hours.

Peach Jam
Yields 3 pints

5 pounds ripe peaches
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
3 ½ cups sugar

To peel the peaches, slash a shallow “X” in the pointed end of each fruit.

Working with a few at a time, blanch the peaches for 60 to 90 seconds in boiling water, or until the skin loosens. Lift the peaches out of the water using a slotted spoon and set them aside to cool; remove the skins and pits.

Slice each peach into quarters, then cut each quarter crosswise into fourths. Mix the fruit with lemon juice, stir in the sugar, and leave to macerate for at least one hour, overnight in the refrigerator if possible.

Turn the fruit-sugar mixture into a preserving pan, and rapidly bring to a full boil.

Reduce over high heat to the gel point, 8 to 10 minutes at a full rolling boil, while stirring constantly.

If the jam is too chunky for your liking, turn off the heat and stir with a whisk for another minute to break down the chunks.

Ladle the hot jam into six prepared ½ pint jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace.

Seal the jars, and process in a boiling-water bath (as outlined above) for 10 minutes.

Recipe excerpted from Saving the Season by Kevin West.