Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Homemade Fig Jam

The first year that we moved here, I was very excited about our fruit trees and made several kinds of jam to give away as Christmas gifts to our kind neighbors. Since then, I've garnered the reputation as the "canning lady" and frequently find myself the recipient of neighbors' excess fruit at the end of the harvest season. A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to end up with a TON of fresh figs from my next door neighbor.

We don't have figs in our yard, so this was an extra special treat. I knew right away that I wanted to use them to make homemade fig jam - or vanilla fig jam to be precise!

Just like a fresh fig itself, this jam has a mild, lightly sweet flavor. The vanilla helps bring out some of the fig's natural sweetness, without having to use too much sugar. It's good on toast or served with crackers and cheese. Best of all, like most jams, the recipe is very easy. Enjoy!

Vanilla Fig Jam
Makes 4 8-oz. jars

4 cups peeled, chopped figs (about 15 small to medium figs)
2/3 c. water 
3 Tbsp. low or no-sugar needed pectin
1/2 c. sugar (or to taste)
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 vanilla bean, sliced in half lengthwise

1. If planning to can your jam, bring large pot of water to a boil. Add jars to water and boil 10 minutes to sterilize. Turn off the heat and let the boiling subside. Then add the lids to the water (to get the seal sticky), cover and let sit until jam is ready. (If freezing the jam, skip this step and go straight to putting your jam in freezer-safe containers after step 4 below.)

2. Combine chopped figs and water in a large saucepan over high heat. Gradually stir in pectin and bring to full, rolling boil that can't be stirred down.

3. Add sugar and spliced vanilla bean to saucepan and stir until well-combined.

4.  Bring the mixture back to a boil and boil hard for 1 full minute, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat and skim off any foam that may rise to the top of the jam. Remove vanilla bean pod and discard.

5. Carefully remove jars and lids from hot water.  Place jars upright on a stable surface close to the saucepan full of jam.

6. Carefully ladle hot jam into prepared jars, leaving about 1/4" of headspace at the top of the jar.

7. Using a cloth or paper towel, wipe the rims of the jars to remove any spilled jam. Place heated lids on top and screw on the outer band.

8. Using tongs, carefully place the filled jars back in the hot water bath. Ensure jars are covered with at least 1" of water. Turn heat to high and bring water to a full boil.

9. Boil jars for 10 minutes (if you are more than 1000 feet above sea level, use this chart for boiling times). Turn off heat and let sit 10 minutes.

10. Carefully remove from jars and allow to cool completely. Once cooled, check lids to make sure they are sealed (the centers be firm and not "pop" when you press down on them). All sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up 1 year. Any jars that did not seal should be stored in the refrigerator and used within 1 month.

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