Some of my best childhood memories are of spending time with my grandparents in Phoenix, Arizona. I grew up on the east coast, but every summer we would go back to Arizona for a visit. So many smells and tastes were different there. We ate watermelon and cantaloupe every day. My grandfather made me fresh-squeezed orange juice for breakfast. He fried eggs and bacon and potatoes. My grandmother put wheat germ on my breakfast cereal and alfalfa sprouts in my sandwiches for lunch. It wasn’t so much that these tastes and flavors weren’t available at home, it was just that they were ever-so-prevalent at Grandma and Grandpa’s house. It was a rich, flavorful experience every day.
But of all the tastes that excited my palate during those summers, fresh figs off of my grandfather’s tree were the most interesting. If you have never had a fresh fig, you have truly missed out on one of the most delightful experiences of eating. Dried, chewy figs have purpose in life, but they are nothing in comparison to the warm, sweet goodness of a fig picked right off of the tree. Figs are rich in fiber and if you open one up, you can see why. They are full of little seeds, held together in a massive network of sweet, juicy fibers.
Today I live in North Carolina. It is warm enough here to grow fig trees. A couple of years ago, I planted a little stick in the ground. This summer my tree is tall and wide and loaded with figs. I am abundantly blessed! So blessed, that our family cannot possibly eat all of the figs as they ripen. So I am making jam. Fig jam is the easiest jam in the world to make. It is also the cheapest as it requires no pectin. Figs have enough of their own. All you need is sugar. Here’s how:
Pick ripe figs off your tree. (Go plant one now if you don’t have one!!!) The figs don’t all ripen at once, so you never have to feel overwhelmed by them.
Cut the stems off and mash the figs with a potato masher. This part is fun if you have kids that want to help!
Place the fig pulp in a heavy saucepan and add sugar. I use about an equal amount of sugar to the amount of crushed figs. You can use more if you like. Heat over a medium stove, stirring constantly until the fig mixture has become liquid and bubbly.
I like my jam to have a uniform texture without lumps, so I pour it into my blender, whir it up, and pour it back into the pan.
Stir and boil for about 5 more minutes until the jam is rich in color and is slightly thickened.
Then pour into clean, sterilized jars, leaving a 1/2 inch head space.
Wipe the top of the jar with a clean wet cloth, place the pre-boiled lids on, screw the rings on tight, and wait for the lid to “pop!”
If you are nervous about canning and want to give your jars a water bath, go ahead. 5-10 minutes will be more than sufficient. I never do with jam because the sugar does a good enough job preserving. My jam is boiling hot when I put it in the jars and I’ve never had a seal fail or jam spoil.
Fig jam goes well with peanut butter, but it also pairs well with cheese and meat! There is nothing so heavenly as cheese and fig jam on whole wheat bread! Enjoy!