Maple-Fig Preserves

>> Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Maple-Fig Preserves

We ate fresh figs for the first time when we arrived at an agritourismo in Tuscany - a working farm with a bed-and-breakfast style accommodations.  The hosts had prepared an enormous five-course dinner, but on the sideboard sat a simple basket, lined with giant fig leaves, full of pale green figs.

Rosa dei Venti agritourismo, Tuscany
Rosa dei Venti, Creti, Italy

Joe picked up a fig and sliced it. We were enchanted by the simple flavor and crunch of the tiny seeds. Fruit in Italy is astoundingly better than fruit I've tasted anywhere else - and I grew up in the fruit-growing area of Southwestern Michigan.

We rarely see fresh figs in the Chicago area, and when we do they are too expensive to contemplate. Dried figs are a good alternative to make jam. I've been wanting to make this ever since I started to notice fig jam as a condiment on antipasto platters, alongside a selection of dessert cheeses, and as a sauce for pork and game.

I think this would also be wonderful poured over a round of brie and topped with chopped walnuts before heating. (Update: we tried this at Thanksgiving, warmed and poured over cream cheese and topped with pecans. Everybody raved about it, and there were no leftovers.)

Since this is my last week working with wonderful friends in my library, I brought in this jam with crackers last night, along with jars of Roasted Poblano salsa and Green Tomatillo salsa. They seemed to like it! It was nice being able to give them a going-away present; they are some of the friendliest, most helpful people I've ever worked with. I'm trying to hold back tears every time I say goodbye to another friend there.


16 oz. dried figs
2 cups boiling water
1 cup lemon juice
1 cup maple syrup
2 tbsp ground coriander
2 tsp nutmeg
1 tbsp vanilla
2 tsp salt


Place the figs in a bowl and pour the boiling water over them. Let them soak 15-20 minutes, or until plump and tender.

Drain the figs, pouring the water into a pan. Set the fruit aside. Add the remaining ingredients to the water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes.

While the syrup is simmering, finely chop the fruit. Add it to the syrup and stir well. Continue simmering 30-45 minutes, or until very thick. Check whether the jam is set by pouring a little onto a cold plate. If it sets, it is ready. You can pour the jam into a jar and keep it in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks, or follow the canning process below to keep it longer.

If you plan to can the jam, ladle it into sterilized 1/2 pint or pint jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe the rims, then screw on the lids. Process for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath, then allow to cool before checking the seals.

Makes about 4 cups of jam.

The Complete Guide to Food Preservation
You can find other canning and preserving recipes in my book, The Complete Guide to Food Preservation: Step-by-step Instructions on How to Freeze, Dry, Can, and Preserve Food


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