This week I made fig jam twice. The first time I made a tiny batch – a taste really – a single jar. Just for fun. I had some dried figs that I wanted to use and some gorgeous, incredibly sweet empire apples that tasted like candy apples. I was fancying fig jam on savoury sandwiches: fig jam and ham; bacon, lettuce, and fig jam; peanut butter and fig jam. In the end, I had a friend coming for lunch and I made roasted parsnip soup and then roast chicken, lettuce, and fig jam sandwiches on seed bread.
I ate most of the rest of the batch in one sitting – on Finn Crisps with peanut butter piled with fig jam. The recipe was ad-libbed. I used a handful of fresh cranberries for colour, some cinnamon, some ginger, and two small apples. It was almost like a chutney. I couldn’t get the taste out of my head. Slightly earthy, fragrant, faintly exotic – rich, almost plummy. Sweet but not overly so.
So today when I got out of bed and remembered that I had fresh croissants bought late yesterday afternoon, I started making another batch of fig jam while I was still in my nightie. This is the problem with working from home. Sometimes I get distracted by the call of the kitchen.
But this time, I decided to get scientific. I measured and wrote down my recipe so that I might stand a chance of remembering how I made it. This, I have to say, is the BEST fig jam I’ve ever tasted. It works perfectly all by itself as jam but it pairs brilliantly with savoury. Incredible on a hot croissant with sharp cheddar, melted. I used a big spoonful of jam. It’s rich and a little sweeter and the flavour is more rounded than the last batch. More of a jam and less of chutney. But still the perfect accompaniment on savoury sandwiches. Note that I left the ginger and cinnamon out of the second batch – and I liked it better without them. Plus I think the colour is nicer.
The great thing is that you can use dried figs, frozen cranberries, and the fruit you have on hand – apples, pears, even an orange – to make this jam. And it’s easy too. I tasted the jam part way through cooking and decided it would be the perfect hot fruit salad – so that recipe will be coming soon too. Hot fruit salad served with whipped cream would be an incredibly elegant dessert. As for the jam – eat it on toast, on scones, in a Victoria Sandwich cake with whipped cream, on sandwiches, on a cheese platter, spooned over Brie and baked…. or give it away as gifts. Who wouldn’t want a jar of homemade fig jam?
fig, apple, cranberry jam
- 2-200gram packages dried figs (I used Turkish figs)
- 4 good sized cooking apples (or use apples and pears)
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen (not dried) cranberries
- 3 cups water
- juice of one orange
- grated zest of one orange
- 3 cup sugar
- 2 tsp pure vanilla essence
You will need – 6 small mason jars – washed and sterilized. And a large stainless jam pot.
Wash the figs, remove the stalks, and chop or snip in halves or quarters. Peel and slice the apples. Rinse the cranberries. Zest the orange and then juice the remainder. Place the fruit, water, and orange zest and orange juice in a large stainless steel pot and bring the boil. Add the sugar. Simmer for about twenty minutes minimum – it might take closer to thirty minutes depending on what temperature your simmer is. (See photographs below for cooking stages.)
Remember that you need to keep an eye on this jam as it cooks, stirring regularly so you don’t burn it. Once it reaches the consistency of jam and the fruit is soft, remove from heat, stir in the vanilla (or you could use a tablespoon or two of cognac) and bottle immediately in the sterilized jars. Store sealed jars in a cool, dark place. If you plan to keep this longer than a month, store in the refrigerator.
Nearly cooked – about five minutes longer to reduce the liquid a bit further…