It’s that time again . . .
The figs are ripe up at Camp Dularge and I am battling the birds for them. I’m sure the guests in the camp thought I was crazy this morning while I was picking figs. I was fussing at the birds to stay up in the top of the tree and to stop coming down in my half of the tree. They’re getting too greedy, and all I picked this morning was this small bowl full. Hardly enough to fool with, but I did anyway, because I love you readers (and my big sister) so much!
This is what every good aspiring Bayou Woman cook has at her fingertips–a laptop cookbook!
For canning, you will need a big boiling pot, about 8 pint jars, new lids (used ones will not seal), bands (can be reused), canning funnel, and canning tongs. Oh, and a Hershey Bar for a burst of energy–optional!
Here’s what you’ll need for the preserves:
12 cups whole figs
4 cups water
6 cups sugar
4 lemon slices – seeds removed
pinch of salt
Wash figs in cool water. Remove stems. I’m using only firm figs for this recipe because I want them to stay “whole” and not smash up.
This recipe calls for an extra step to “set the color” of the figs. Boil a saucepan of water, gently place figs in and remove from heat. Let sit 3 minutes and then drain quickly.
Next . . .
In heavy-bottomed pot, combine sugar and water and bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly until it makes a clear syrup. Do not burn. Add lemon slices, and then gently place figs into boiling liquid.
After only a few minutes, the liquid is becoming a pretty pink color.
Lower heat to medium and cook figs for about 2.5 hours, or until figs seem soft. During the cooking process, swirl the pot to stir rather than using a spoon. We don’t want to break the figs.
While figs are cooking, get your jars ready.
If you have a dishwasher, keep clean jars hot on the “heated dry” cycle.
If not, place them in the sink and fill them with boiling water. Also, place 8 bands and lids in a pot of boiling water.
Also, make sure you have a big pot like this blue one filled with boiling water for your “granny bath” or boiling water bath.
Once figs are done cooking, place funnel on top of hot jar. Using a slotted spoon, gently fill hot jar with figs, slice of lemon, and then ladle hot syrup over figs, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe edge with clean cloth, removing any syrup from rim that would prevent a solid seal. Now, put on a lid, then a band, and wearing an oven mitt or using a hot pad, screw the band on tight. Do one jar at a time until all the preserves are used.
Using big tongs, place each jar gently into the boiling water bath and set the timer for 10 minutes. Make sure the water is over the top of the lids. Using tongs, then place jars on a towel and wait for the “ping”, which is the sound of the lid making a complete seal while the jar cools down.
And if you’re like me–haven’t eaten yet–take some of the leftover syrup and put it on a piece of toast with a side of fresh figs. Mmmmmm. Because I had quite a bit of syrup left, I filled a jar and will try it later on pancakes or waffles.
And there you have it. About three hours of your time and some beautiful, delicious homemade whole fig preserves.