Monday, July 16, 2012

Chunky Fig Jam

Chunky fig jam, made with fresh figs, lemon and sugar, a southern favorite.

Chunky Fig Jam

While I know that some of you are just getting to those figs, my fig tree, like most here in The Deep South, has given up all she had. I don't know much about all the different varieties of fig trees, but mine is a Celeste, very popular in this region. Generally speaking, they are supposed to peak in July, but depending on where you live, ripening can occur anywhere from mid-June through August.

I planted her in the spring following Katrina in 2006 in honor of my mama who used to have one in our backyard. Having lost my job thanks to that hurricane, and following the economic crisis that topped a natural disaster, I wasn't having much success finding another job, so I threw myself into gardening, something I never had time for much before. Like all good southerners do, I planted mine on the south side of my house, against the brick wall, and she has really thrived in that spot.

This year she was loaded down with figs, even more than last, so I decided to do the "put up" version, rather than the refrigerator jam. The major difference between the two is in the way the fruit is handled, and, of course, the canning process. You'll want some basic canning equipment to prepare these figs for the pantry.

10 pounds of Celeste figs.
This year, my yard has been just as loaded with birds - more birds, and more varieties of birds than I've ever seen here in fact - from the tiniest little finches to huge crows who have been visiting my birdbath daily. I enjoy a little bird watching so it's been nice, but with the increase in my backyard bird population, I was also afraid that the birds were gonna beat me to the figs. They sure have been plowing through the seed!

Some of the Facebook family suggested a few things to try, including hanging some rubber snakes in the tree, so I gave that a try this year. While it didn't keep them away completely, it did seem to help some. I wish you could have heard the birds when I first put them out though. About 15 minutes after I hung them in the tree, I heard this horrible screeching and found dozens of birds out there, hopping back and forth between the fig tree and the magnolia, completely distressed over the snakes. I swear I thought I was in the midst of a remake of The Birds.

Y'all know how I feel about animals, so I felt both horrible and responsible for their distress and was just short of taking the snakes back in when things finally calmed down, thank goodness. In the long run, the birds got over it and still managed to eat some of the figs, despite the snakes. I actually have discovered that the best defense against birds consuming all of your figs is a good offense. Go out early in the morning, every morning, to pick, accumulate what you need, and then leave the rest. They'll pick the tree clean in record time once you've gotten all you want.

I couldn't quite settle on whether I was making preserves or jam here. Often figs are left completely whole for preserves, but not always. I knew I didn't want them whole, but I did want them to have some substance, since I wanted to be able to use them in recipes. I decided to quarter mine, and really liked the texture, although it might really be more of a cross somewhere between preserves and jam this way. I just settled on calling it a chunky jam, although I feel it is more like preserves.

There seems to be a fine line in the definition of preserves and jam for most fruit anyway, with the major difference being that preserves have either whole or larger pieces of fruit in them. Jam still has chunks of fruit, though it's usually mashed or even chopped fine. Preserves are also more lightly jellied and not quite as thick as jam, where the fruit is a more broken down, and often pectin is used to speed up the thickening process with a jam. Confused yet? Don't worry... just dive in. I'm just learning myself!

I like the flavor of lemon in my figs so I add the juice and zest to mine, but I've seen many that don't include it at all. You can also just cook the figs to the jell stage you like and rely on the natural fruit pectin, or add in liquid pectin at the end to speed things up.

Besides serving preserves or jam on biscuits or toast, you can use them in ice cream or recipes like homemade fig bars and cakes. Figs go well with pork roast, and pair up nicely with a wide variety of cheeses, served alongside chunks of it, or spread the cheese on appetizer sized pizzas or crusted breads, and top with the fig preserves.

This recipe will make about 5 pints, or 10 half pints. Here's how to make it - whether you call it preserves, or jam.

For more of my favorite jam and jelly recipes, visit my page on Pinterest!

If you make this or any of my recipes, I'd love to see your results! Just snap a photo and hashtag it #DeepSouthDish on social media or tag me @deepsouthdish on Instagram!


Recipe: Chunky Fig Jam

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

  • 5 pounds of ripe figs
  • 1-1/2 cups of boiling water
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 6 cups of granulated sugar
  • 1 (3 ounce) pouch of liquid pectin

Rinse figs, stem and quarter; add to large pot. Pour the boiling water over the figs, add the lemon zest, stir, bring to a boil, cover and reduce to medium heat; cook for 10 minutes, to soften. Uncover, stir in the sugar, one cup at a time and and bring mixture slowly to a boil, stirring constantly until all of the sugar dissolves. Cook rapidly, stirring frequently, until the liquid begins to appear syrupy, about 30 minutes.

Add the lemon juice and pectin, return to a boil and cook for 5 minutes longer. Remove from heat and ladle into sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the rims, add lids and rings and process 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.

Cook's Notes: Consult a professional canning resource for details on water bath canning. If you want your figs less chunky, after you rinse and stem them, instead of quartering, simply mash or grind them and proceed with the recipe. The jam pictured does not have pectin and was simply stewed down longer. If you prefer a thicker syrup base, stir in the pouch of liquid pectin at the end. Although some sources say sterilizing the jars is not necessary due to the processing, I feel more comfortable sterilizing them before filling.


Requires Adobe Reader - download it free!
©Deep South Dish
Are you on Facebook? If you haven't already, come and join the party! We have a lot of fun & there's always room for one more at the table.
Check These Recipes Out Too Y'all!

Fresh Fig Refrigerator Jam
Icebox Bread and Butter Pickles
Watermelon Rind Pickles

Posted by on July 16, 2012
Images and Full Post Content including Recipe ©Deep South Dish. Pinning and sharing links is welcomed and encouraged, but please do not repost or republish elsewhere such as other blogs, websites, or forums without explicit prior permission. All rights reserved.

Material Disclosure: Unless otherwise noted, you should assume that post links to the providers of goods and services mentioned, establish an affiliate relationship and/or other material connection and that I may be compensated when you purchase from a provider. You are never under any obligation to purchase anything when using my recipes and you should always perform due diligence before buying goods or services from anyone via the Internet or offline.

Bookmark and Share


  1. I love figs and Love them jammed. I am going to try this beautiful recipe of fig healthy! Who is going to buy store-bought jams now? Not me, because I have your recipe!

  2. We planted a brown turkey fig and after doing some reading yesterday, I am wondering if we should have planted a Celeste.

    1. I don't know anything about that variety, but I do know I love my Celeste!

  3. My figs are coming in here in N. Alabama. I best get busy.

    1. You know how it is Kat - once they start coming they start coming fast and furious!!

  4. I put up 30 jars Saturday, my recipe is similar, but I like to only use half a pkg of pectin and add a couple of boxes of either Strawberry, peach or my favorite Apricot jello, the jello has it's own pectin so that's the reason for cutting back. I have been using the Bell's Best #2 recipe for years.
    It's easy to root figs too after the tree goes dormant get a limb near the ground and peel back four to five inches of bark. push it to the ground and dig the area where that will lay, cover it with dirt and put something like a brick over it so it doesn't spring up. In spring you can take a shovel and severe it right behind where you cut it, it will have developed roots. Plant in a pot for a couple of years to get a well established root system then plant it where you like

    1. How timely! I was just going to look up how to root a branch and here I find your comment!! I actually have a branch this year that is laying on the ground so it will be perfect for this. Thank you so much!!

  5. Reminded me of my Moms fig jams. Instead of using regular pectin she used strawberry jello and if she didn't tell you it was figs you would have sworn you were eating strawberry jam.

  6. I remember my grandma's gigantic fig tree. It must have been a good 50 years old. I would climb that tree and eat fresh figs as a little girl. You just can't find figs like that unless you have your own tree, and the jam is wonderful.

    1. That is so true Sandra! Figs don't keep for long so you really do need to have a tree. We moved from this house last year and the first spring here at the new house, I planted a new fig tree here. I got about a half dozen figs on it this summer, so it'll be awhile!


Thanks for taking the time to comment - I love hearing from readers and I read every single comment and try to respond to them right here on the site, so stop back by!

From time to time, anonymous restrictions and/or comment moderation may be activated due to comment spam. I also reserve the right to edit, delete or otherwise exercise total editorial discretion over any comments left on this blog. If your comment serves only to be snarky, mean-spirited or argumentative, it will be deleted. Please mind your manners.

Related Posts with Thumbnails