If you are very fortunate, you, or maybe a neighbour, will have a Brown Turkey Fig in the garden. We do, and we always get a fabulous crop of huge, luscious figs in July or August. Our fig tree is a sport of one which has regularly been doing the rounds in our part of North Essex. Nearly every large country house in our village has one directly propagated from an original specimen planted around 70 years ago!
Now it is common knowledge that you rarely get the second crop of figs, ready around November, to ripen properly for the table in the UK. Our first summer crop produces huge fruits, but not in any real quantity. The second crop, however, is always much more prolific, albeit having much smaller specimens. We usually pick these off and discard them in October, when the weather starts to turn.
This has been an exceptionally mild and wet autumn however, and I noticed that these small fruits were not only growing, but starting to ripen too! Hence my foray into Fig Jam making. So sublime, and I can’t think why I did not do this before now. It is the perfect accompaniment to foie gras, chicken liver pate, or even a simple lunch of Parma Ham and some good goats cheese.
The method is incredibly simple.
INGREDIENTS enough to make 2 X 1 lb / 500g kilner jars
Around 2 lbs of small, slightly underripe figs. They must be a bit soft, turning brown on the outside, and red in the middle. It is preferable to pick them a few days before and get them to ripen a little on a sunny windowsill
1 and1/2 pounds of sugar
and around 1/4 pint of water
Cut the stems off the figs and halve each one. Put into a heavy saucepan with the water, cover and simmer very gently until soft. This will take at least half an hour, depending on how ripe they are. Or you could put them into the bottom oven of your aga to soften. It is best not to add the sugar until they are quite soft, because otherwise the skins would be too tough.
Take the zest off the lemon, and add it, plus all the squeezed juice to the pan, together with the sugar. Dissolve the sugar slowly. Simmer gently, stirring all the while, until the jam becomes thick and dark. This can take a good half an hour, or more, even up to 1 hour if the figs are underripe. You will know when it is done as the figs will have completely broken down and it will look dark and sticky, not watery, and taste like jam!
Then put it into previously warmed and sterilised kilner jars, or ordinary jam jars.
This should keep unopened in the fridge until Christmas!
It contains little sugar, so must be refridgerated.