I don’t know why, but many people are intimidated by making jam. However, beyond washing and cutting up the fruit, jam is literally the easiest condiment to make, and is a great way to preserve leftover fruit instead of throwing it away. As you may have read from my previous blog, my parents gifted me with fig tree saplings that grew into massive trees with abundant fruit. As there are only so many figs my family and I can eat in fruit salads, on pancakes, and even braised in my chicken skillet dinners, the time has come to turn these purple and green bulbs of sweetness into preserves!
I like to incorporate the herbs and spices of the season into the jams I make throughout the year. For instance in the summer, I love adding fresh basil to strawberry jam, or fresh mint to stone fruit jams. Now in the winter, warming spices are my jam (no pun intended) The earthy figs pair so well with robust spices like cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. If you don’t like figs (and if you don’t who are you I need to know!) you can use in-season persimmons or quince.
While I love to pair this jam with cheese on crackers, I also love to incorporate this sweet goodness into my savory dishes. Add a large tablespoon of fig jam to mushrooms and chicken while braising them in a little butter for some extra sweetness. You can also add a spoon of the jam in a tagine of root vegetables and lamb. Fig jam also adds a beautiful sweetness and moist texture to baked goods. My kids especially love my homemade fig and oat bars with a thick layer of this jam in the middle.
If a tree was able to tell you all about the ancient and rich history of the Middle East, it would be the fig tree. Many researchers claim that the Middle East is the origin of Ficus Carica, or the common fig. Archeologists have also discovered remains of fig trees in cultivation in the Jordan valley tracing all the way back to 4000 BC. The ancient Egyptians called the fig “Tun” which was probably the precursor to the Arabic word for figs today, with is the word “Teen.”
Many of the fig varieties of the Middle East were given descriptive names based on their shape, color or flavor. The Byadi fig from Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan for example comes from the word “Abyad” which means white. Ira Condit, who is a renowned fig breeder and researcher, conjectured that Syria and Anatolia were the original and natural habitats of the fig tree. From there travelers spread the fig tree to North Africa, South and Central America, Spain, and California, where 98% of the figs are grown in the United States.
In ancient times people carried strings of dried figs on long arduous journeys across the desert. The figs provided them with a nutritious high carbohydrate food source in a region where food was scarce. For such a small fruit, figs both fresh and dried, are rich in phyto-nutrients, antioxidants, as well as vitamins and minerals like calcium and potassium.
So now that you now more about figs, hope you give this jam recipe a try! The whole process will fill your kitchen with a glorious sweet and spicy scent, like a fresh potpourri. To see my easy technique, check out my video below:
FIG JAM WITH FALL SPICES
- 1 pound . fresh figs, quartered
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup allulose
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 lemon, juiced
- 1/4 tsp allspice
- ¼ tsp cardammon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Combine all the ingredients in a large pot, and bring to a boil over medium high heat.
- Turn the heat down to a simmer, stirring occasionally and cook uncovered for 30 minutes or until the liquid has been reduced, fruit is soft, and jam is thick. If it is too dry add more water, preferably boiling water.
- Remove from heat and allow to cool. Pour into sterilized jars. This jam lasts up to 6 weeks in the refrigerator.