Frost season has arrived in Arizona. Mr. and I covered all of our trees and plants with white sheets and frost cloths in the hopes of keeping them warm enough to survive the cold snap. Our front and back yards look like a scene from a Dickens novel where the unused rooms in great mansions have their furniture draped in sheets. I keep expecting Miss Havisham to creep around our workshop. Brrrrr (not the cold, but Miss Havisham).
In our earnest effort to drape our fledgling trees with frost cloth, a good deal of figs dropped to the ground (I guess they were more ready to be picked than I thought!).
So I started off the day with about a pound and a half of wonderful, ripe, fresh Black Mission figs. Growing up, my grandmother had a huge fig tree in her yard and my mom would pick them and eat right off the tree. My mom made those figs look so yummy (I mean, she couldn’t even wait to wash and plate them!). With so many figs I decided to make a jam. An online search gave me a great orange and fig spread recipe and safe canning method:
Fig Orange Microwave Jam Recipe
(Adapted from a recipe in a 1979 Sunset Magazine.)
- 1 1/2 cups diced fresh Black Mission figs (6-10 figs, depending on the size. Although, I had to use about 20 figs since our tree is very young and still only produces small fruit). I used the fruit, skin and all, after slicing the top stems and bottoms off. If you want a smoother jam then make sure to cut into small dices (larger pieces result in patches of black fig skin in the jam).
- 1/2 cup seeded, peeled orange, diced
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel
- 1 1/2 cups of sugar
- 3 Tbsps. lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon butter
- 2 (8-ounce) canning jars
Place the ingredients in a large ceramic or glass bowl or casserole (or a 2-quart Pyrex measuring cup), stir to combine, let sit for 30 minutes for the fruit to macerate in the sugar.
Place in microwave. Cook the fruit mixture on the high setting for approximately 15 minutes. As soon as the mixture starts to boil, after about 2 to 6 minutes, stop the cooking and stir. Continue cooking and stir every few minutes. At about 13 minutes the mixture should start to get gooey. If you spoon out a bit on to a small plate that has been in the freezer, you can push the mixture around a bit with your finger tip to see how thick it is. If it is runny, cook it a couple minutes more. You can also check by seeing how the jam runs off of a spoon. If it seems to firm up a bit as it drips, it’s done.
Pour out the jam into jars, leaving 1/4-inch of headroom from the top of the jars. Wipe any spilled jam off the top. If you plan to eat up quickly and keep them in the refrigerator, regular clean jars will do.
Yield: Makes one pint, or two 8-ounce jars.
This spread is yummy on bruschetta and brie or goat cheese. Or slab some jam on top of hot buttered bread.
I plan to keep for longer so I used the canning method below that I found on http://www.pickyourown.org:
Canning your jam
Wash the jars and lids
The dishwasher is fine for the jars; the water bath processing will sterilize them as well as the contents! Leave the jars in the dishwasher on “heated dry” until you are ready to use them. Keeping them hot will prevent the jars from breaking when you fill them with the hot jam. Some newer dishwashers even have a “sterilize” setting.
If you don’t have a dishwasher, you can wash the containers in hot, soapy water and rinse, then sterilize the jars by boiling them 10 minutes, and keep the jars in hot water until they are ready to be used.
NOTE: If unsterilized jars are used, the product should be processed for 5 more minutes. However, since this additional processing can result in a poor set (runny jam), it’s better to sterilize the jars.
Get the lids sterilized
Lids: put the lids into a pan of boiling water (or on the stove in a pot of water on low heat) for at least several minutes; to soften up the gummed surface and clean and sterilize the lids.
Let the jam stand for 5 minutes and stir completely
Why? Otherwise, the fruit will often float to the top of the jar. Skipping this step won’t affect the quality of the jam but it does make for a nicer end result.
Fill the jars and put the lid and rings on
Fill them to within 1/4 inch of the top, wipe any spilled jam off the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them.
Process the jars in the boiling water bath
Keep the jars covered with at least 1 inch of water. Keep the water boiling. In general, boil them for 5 minutes. (You have to boil them longer at higher altitudes, or if you use larger jars, or if you did not sterilize the jars and lids right before using them.)
Clemson University says you only need to process them for 5 minutes. But I’m neurotic about food safety so I kept the jars in for 10 minutes.
Remove and cool the jars – Done!
Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight). You can then remove the rings if you like.
Once cooled, they’re ready to store. Best if eaten in the first 12 to 18 months after you prepare them.
p.s. Pickyourown.org has a ton of information on how to can and freeze fresh fruits and vegetables. It also has a directory to help you find a pick-your-own farm near you.