Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Preserved Figs

Whole figs, preserved in a thick sugar syrup.

Preserved Figs

I've talked about it here before, but I grew up in a home where the back property line butted up against a heavily wooded field. We had a short, wood framed fence along the back, easy to climb, and we had such fun playing in those woods, building caves and forts out of twigs and branches and using our imagination to entertain ourselves. Times were much more innocent then.

Along that fence line was a huge fig tree and I can remember Mama bringing in bowls overflowing with figs every summer, that we'd enjoy eating in their pure, fresh, right off the tree state. Following Hurricane Katrina in 2006, and even before I started blogging, I threw myself into gardening to occupy and distract my mind from all of the destruction and changes that had happened to my beautiful Gulf Coast, and my own life. I decided that year to plant a Celeste fig tree in honor of Mama.

I am happy to say that it has flourished and grown tall, producing more figs than ever this year. I still have to beat the birds to them, but every year as they begin to ripen, I pluck a handful early in the morning to eat just as they are. Once they start coming in though, they ripen by the bucketloads and since fresh figs don't keep well, it's time to put up a few.

Celeste Figs
I enjoy fig preserves and jams, but I really love preserved figs the most - whole figs that are preserved in a thick sugar syrup. It's a great way to put up those figs as they start rolling in all at once and truly my favorite way to eat them. Well... next to just eating them fresh off the tree that is!

Using my blue limited edition heritage Ball jars!
Preserved figs are perfect for serving with hot, buttered homemade buttermilk biscuits or even simple toast, of course, but they're good just to eat as they are, spooned over ice cream, on top of crostini spread with cream cheese, goat cheese or blue cheese, mashed up to use in baked goods and other recipes, or even tossed on a salad.

Back in the day, it'd be a rare home here in the Deep South that didn't have a few jars of preserved figs in the pantry or the fridge. Here's how to make them.

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Recipe: Preserved Figs

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 1 hour | Yield: About 4 to 5 pints

  • 6 cups of whole, ripe figs (I use Celeste)
  • 1 cup of water
  • 4 cups of granulated sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 lemon, scrubbed and sliced, optional

Pinch stems from figs, if desired. Rinse well and drain; set aside. Bring the water, sugar, salt and lemon to a boil. Boil until sugar is completely dissolved. Add the figs, stir, reduce heat to a medium low simmer, and cook for 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until figs begin to turn transparent, gently stirring occasionally. Ladle figs into sterilized jars, packing fairly tight and spoon syrup to fill, leaving 1/4 inch head space; seal. Process 15 minutes in a boiling water canner. Remove and let cool on a heavy bath towel without disturbing.

Cook's Notes: Consult a professional canning resource for details on water bath canning. Choose figs that are ripe, but still firm and slightly green. How many jars you get will be dependent on the size of the type and size figs that you use. I grow Celeste figs. If you don't want to process this with a water bath, you may halve the recipe and refrigerate or freeze after cooking. They will usually keep for a month to 6 weeks in the refrigerator without canning, or they may also be frozen for up to 6 months.

Source: http://deepsouthdish.com

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Posted by on July 23, 2013
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  1. Am I the first one to comment on this post!! Yay!! Mary, your childhood memories are making me nostalgic...you are absolutely right, so innocent those days were!! About seven years back, we lived in a beautiful hill station....which is nicknamed Scotland of India...and yes figs were abundant there....I used to make wine and preserve figs, though I used to cut each one into fours...and they were so good topped on ice creams and puddings!! Now I live in a city...how I wish I could get some figs and do your way!!

    1. You are Nisa! I love to do the preserves quartered or chopped, but I truly love these.

  2. Did you purposely start gardening to heal after Katrina or was it something that your subconscious did to heal you? Such an awful, awful time but it is wonderful to see new growth in the midst of devastation.

    Nothing better than figs and butter biscuits! Love them.

  3. I LOVE figs, especially when they are covering some buttered biscuits! I think figs remind me of my grandmother and growing up here in S Louisiana. Now I finally have my own fig trees, waiting for them to start making fruit!!

    1. I had loads of figs this year for me and the birds - with several trees, you are gonna soon be overloaded with figs Robin - have fun!

  4. When I visited my husband's grandmother, she'd always make the best ice cream I ever tasted. It was fig ice cream. Do you have a recipe you'd recommend?

    1. I do have one Jannza but haven't published it yet - stay tuned!!

  5. I am a newbie to your site. (Found it through Just A Pinch when I was searching for Fig Preserve recipes.) My Mother always made this as I was growing up but I didn't particularly care for hers then. Seems she always overcooked them just a tad and they were nearly impossible to spoon out of the jar. I have a batch on the stove top as I write and can't wait to give them a taste.

  6. I am new to your site but I can say reading this just has me missing my mawmaw

    1. Aw Rachel, I'm sending a big ole warm HUG your way!! Welcome - I'm Mary & very happy to meet you!

  7. This reminds me of when I was a child and would climb our 50-year-old fig tree and eat fresh figs. Sure miss that tree. We were friends.

    1. Now that we've moved here recently, I'm going to have to plant another fig tree here. That's the one thing that I'm really gonna miss about my old house!

  8. once you have cooked a batch of whole figs, can you reuse the syrup to cook more. I have alot of syrup left and it seems wasteful to throw out.

    1. The amount of syrup leftover from canning projects will vary from project to project depending on the size of the fruit that was used. Better to have more syrup, than not enough when you're in the middle of canning!

      As far as whether you could have reused it again is one I'm not sure of since it's no longer just simple syrup, but it's had raw fruit added to it and cooked down in it. I would consult a professional canning resource. Logically, it seems to me, and this is just an opinion, that you could possibly continue with cooking more figs in it, but I just don't know enough about canning to know if that would be safe to do or if the results would be the same given you've already cooked one batch of fruit in it.

      Sorry I can't help more, but I always just discard any syrup that is left, although you could preserve the syrup by freezing it in ice trays and then bag it to use to add flavor sweetness to other things on down the line, such as cakes or cobblers. Basically you'll have a fig infused simple syrup. Hope that helps!

  9. Just followed your recipe, and it was a total hit!!! Been canning figs since I was a child with my Granny, and your recipe is the least complex by far...and delicious to!!! Thank you, and look forward to trying more!!!

    1. Aren't they good this way Jaime? Glad you enjoyed them!!


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