Friday, April 6, 2012

Fig Preserves

Ah, spring is here. The yard is fragrant with blossoms and alive with happy, busy little bees.  Although our desert property does not boast a single blade of grass, my husband and I do maintain a grove of dwarf citrus trees and one very prolific fig tree.  They all have names — the trees, that is, not the figs — and, yes, I do talk to them — the trees again.  Each season we do battle with the birds for the fresh figs, but there is always enough fruit to make up a batch of my grandmother’s wonderful Fig preserves.

The recipe originated on my grandfather’s side of the family in Norcross, Georgia, and likely dates back to the 19th century.  His people were farmers and among many other things had fig trees in their orchard.  When my grandparents moved back to the homestead in their retirement, many of the trees were still there including fig trees.  So here it is, as originally written by my grandmother, Marie Jackson.  Enjoy!

Courtesy Depositphotos & Pauliene Wessel


  • 1 quart fresh figs
  • 1 lemon (or sliced preserved ginger, or a little ground ginger) (You can use sliced lemon or just lemon juice: I used lemon and ginger to suit my taste)
  • 2 cups sugar

Cover figs with 1 quart boiling water.  Let stand 15 minutes, then drain and rinse in cold water.  They may be peeled or not.  (You can leave about 1/8 inch stem on them.  Aunt Frank caught hold of stem and peeled it down as far as it would peel with fingers – no knife.  Just catch hold of stem and carry as much peel back with it as you can.)  Place figs in alternate layers with sugar in an enamel or aluminum kettle.  Let stand overnight.  Next morning lift figs out of syrup which formed during the night.  Bring syrup to boil.  Drop figs into boiling syrup a few at a time.  Cook until tender, transparent, and amber colored.  Add lemon juice or lemons sliced and a little ginger, and cook 5 or 10 minutes more.  Pack while hot into hot, clean jars and seal.

If you don’t want to let them stand over night, use about a cup of hot water and add sugar and bring to boil:  add figs, a few at a time, and follow rest of above recipe.

If figs are watery or figs are clear before syrup is thick, just remove figs when done and place in shallow pans (don’t heap so as to mash fruit) and boil syrup longer until it is thick; add figs again and let all come to a boil.  Place in hot, sterilized jars and seal.

I gave you directions for 1 quart in case you don’t have many at a time.  You can double or triple recipe as you wish.  If you use lemon juice instead of sliced lemon, you probably would need just a half lemon, according to size and degree of tartness desired.

My own notes:  12-20-2008 — used figs & Meyer’s lemons from our trees, half tsp ground ginger and juice of one lemon per batch.  Delicious.  (2009 — upped the amount of lemon and ginger by taste, and added bits of crystallized ginger for a little extra zip.) 

Suggestion:  Break up figs into smaller chunks before boiling.  The preserves freeze well.  Small freezer-jam containers can found with the canning goods in the grocery store.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, how are you - Happy Easter !!!

    I don't remember ever having tried Fig Preserves - my problem here with the recipe is that I ABSOLUTELY CANNOT eat citrus of any kind. I guess otherwise it would be too bland !? I've never made ​​preserves in my life either .... But thanks for sharing your family recipe.