September 24, 2015

Farm Food: Fig Jam

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I could probably fill up most of my September and October blog posts documenting my manic effort to make the most of the autumn fruit growing just outside my cottage and around the farm. But since I am still new to this and have varying levels of success, I will chose to focus on the highlights here. First and foremost, I think of September as FIG MONTH (even though you could equally argue that it’s apple, pear, blackberry or quince month). I eat figs just about every single day, mostly by choice, but there is a certain urgency to it as well. Whether still on the tree or just picked, figs are only really good for one day. You pick them a day early and the seeds are too crunchy, or a day late and the whole thing is mushy and likely half-eaten by a wasp. We just have one tree in our garden and I thank god for that because it supplies more figs than I can eat or preserve for a full six weeks each year.

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The first year we lived here I ate myself silly having fresh figs for breakfast, lunch and even dinner. Last year I felt in danger of growing sick of them so I made a tart and a galette. The tart was better. Despite making the required almond past by hand for the galette, I ruined it by using frozen pastry. Shame on me. This year I decided I would try out fellow fashion ex-pat Kevin West’s recipe for Fig Jam from his wonderful book, “Saving the Season.” He offers many variations and additions, but I thought for my first time I would just make the simplest version. Here’s the recipe:

Fig Jam

Yields about 1.5 pints

Ingredients: 3 pounds just-ripe figs, 2 cups sugar, 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Trim the figs: cut off the stem, quarter them, and then cut the quarters cross wise.

Combine the fruit, sugar and lemon juice in a mixing bowl. Cover with a tea towel and set aside to macerate for a few hours or overnight. 

Pour the mixture in a preserving pan, and rapidly bring to a boil. Stirring constantly, reduce over high heat until thickened almost to the gel point, about 6 to 8 minutes after the boil. Lower the heat to medium. Continue reducing to gel point, another 2 to 3 minutes, while stirring constantly.

Ladle the hot jam into prepared ½ pint jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Seal, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

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My jam was a success. I’m just getting to the point where I don’t use a thermometer anymore – I just spoon a certain amount onto a small side plate and run my finger through it to see if it stays separated. I am starting to be able to tell when the consistency of the mixture has reached the right amount of heat and reduction. I consider this a great accomplishment. That said, I had no idea what to do with fig jam once I’d made it. Having it on toast didn’t appeal to me much, so the following morning I heaped a spoonful of it into my oatmeal (or porridge for all you English people). LOVED it!

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May
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May
1 year 11 months ago

I really enjoyed your books and your previous blog so I’m glad you’re back to blogging. I loved the photos you included of your stylish mother in your books; perhaps you could do a blog post or two on her style? just a thought, I know for me it would be a treat.

Ciara
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Ciara
1 year 11 months ago

How lovely to find out you have reactivated your blog! Mark D Sikes gave the tip off over on his blog. So lucky to make your own fig jam and that the birds don’t eat all the figs. Loved your post about how you go about writing, as someone else commented, it is always interesting how creative people set about the process. Now off to search around the new site… I am hoping to find that magical photo of the hunt with the beautiful woman riding side saddle (?) splattered with mud.

Leslie
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2 years 7 hours ago

I have recently fallen in love with all things “fig” so can’t wait to try this recipe! Thank you!

Virginia
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Virginia
2 years 8 hours ago

So happy you’re back, indeed! I had lots of figs from our tree this summer. I’m in Los Angeles and they peaked end of July thru mid August. I made jam using a similar recipe. I have a copper jam pot I bought in Paris a few years back. It’s fun to make it in there. And to make it with my 5 year old daughter. The simple things. Welcome back! You were missed!

Charlotte Goldfarb
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Charlotte Goldfarb
2 years 18 hours ago

I ruined a cherry galette this summer using frozen pie crust … Pie crust intimidates me. I have written a rough draft of an especially miserable experience trying to make one …

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