We bought our house in late 2018, and there was already an established fig tree on the property. We’d never had figs besides in fig newtons, so we didn’t know what to expect. We have found that we really enjoy them! After a good pruning the first winter, it has produced so much since then! We get multiple gallons each summer and have been able to keep some for ourselves and share with others (and our chickens help themselves to all the ones that they can reach near the bottom!).
I’ve found that my favorite thing to do with figs is to make preserves. Then I can use them in that form or add it to a cake. Here is my favorite fig preserves recipe and is so simple. Figs produce enough natural pectin, so you don’t have to worry about adding any to the recipe. This recipe isn’t exact, so you will adjust to however many figs you have.
Fresh figs (I like to do at least 12 cups at a time)
1/2 the amount in sugar (so if you have 12 cups of figs, add 6 cups of sugar)
1/2 of THAT amount in water (so if you have 6 cups of sugar, you’ll use 3 cups of water)
1/4 cup lemon juice per 6 cups of figs
(NOTE: since my figs ripen in small batches, I pick them at their ripest point and then put in a gallon ziplock bag and put in the freezer. Then when I have enough for a batch of preserves, I put them in the sink of cold water and use them. All of my preserves have turned out great, even when using frozen ones.)
Put your figs in a sink full of cold water and rinse them thoroughly. Then I cut the stem off each fig and place the figs in a pot beside me on the counter. You want to only keep the ripe figs. If they are green, they won’t break down very well in the cooking process.
Add your sugar, water, lemon juice, and stir. Put on medium heat and as they start to soften, smash them up as much as you can. You’re going to continue this for at least an hour. I’ll be honest-it looks pretty disgusting in the process. Eventually, the figs will start to caramelize a little and it will start to look more glassy instead of just clumpy. Your figs will become more translucent. I continue to chop and smash them as I prefer a more smooth fig preserve. Be patient-keep stirring so it doesn’t stick. You’ll eventually keep a low rolling boil and can adjust the heat to a little lower if it starts to pop up too much.
Your preserves are ready when you get more of a thick, preserves consistency. So pretty!
At this point, have your jars and lids prepared for the canning process. I do my preserves in smaller portions of pints or half-pints. I fill the jars and leave a little bit of headspace, clean the rims well, add my rings and lids, and then water bath them for about 10 minutes per pint. Some people don’t water bath jams and preserves and instead just turn them upside down. I feel a little safer by putting them in a water bath.