Last week I bought a bunch of figs at the farmers market and as I tend to do, I only used them in one recipe and ended up with an abundance of leftover fruit. This contradicts my standards as a person who dislikes waste. So instead of letting them go bad in the depths of my refrigerator I polled my followers for advice on what I should make with them. The resounding answer was jam, a perfect idea because it also meant I didn’t need to go buy any additional ingredients. And it increases the shelf life.
This recipe includes black peppercorns and cinnamon to give the jam a warmer flavor and a fall twist. I used a combination of black mission and tiger stripe figs. The former is probably the most common and popular variety with a dark purple/brown exterior and heavily seeded pinkish interior. The later, also known as panachéfigs, have pale yellow skin with green stripes – earning them their name.
I learned to make jam from Chef Anne Willan. We worked in large batches in order to send the jam as holiday gifts, tied with a bow. In order to make sure the sealed jars do not go bad in the meantime, we made certain they were thoroughly sterilized before filling. This can easily be done in the dishwasher – just run them through a full cycle. Chef Anne also advised cooking the jam in copper cookware because copper is conductive and allows for even cooking and control over the temperature. Not to say it can’t be done in everyday cookware, but copper is the most stable.
2 pounds figs
1¼ cups granulated sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 cinnamon stick
Remove fig stems and slice figs into quarters. Add to a medium non-reactive bowl (ideally copper) and toss with the sugar, salt, ¼ cup water and lemon juice.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate the mixture for at least 1 hour at room temperature to macerate the figs.
In the pot over medium heat, bring the fig mixture to a boil. Add the peppercorns to a small piece of cheesecloth and tie. Add the peppercorns and cinnamon stick to the pot. Continue boiling, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the jam is thick but not too concentrated and the fruit is soft, about 30 to 40 minutes. Skim off any foam that rises and discard. Discard the peppercorns and cinnamon stick.
Divide the jam into three clean ½-pint jars, leaving ¼-inch of space at the top. Close the jars and let cool to room temperature. Store the jam in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.
Makes 3 (1/2-pint jars).