This simple homemade fig preserves recipe contains only five ingredients. But the flavor is undeniably delicious. Whip up a batch today!
When I was a little girl, my dad planted a fig tree in my parent’s front yard. Over the last 30-something plus years, it has produced quite a lot of figs. Every year, my parents share their bounty with me, which I promptly freeze until spring when I can make my Strawberry Fig Jam as soon as Louisiana strawberries are in season.
A few months ago, I was taking a much-needed inventory of my freezer and I unearthed SO MANY forgotten bags of frozen figs. Strawberry season was over. What else could I do with them?
Every summer when The Husband and I take our annual beach trip with the family, we steal away one night for a date at our favorite restaurant. We’ve been going to this restaurant for so long, we’ve started to notice subtle changes in the menu, like the addition of a dollop of fig jam to our favorite meat and cheese tray. It’s such a wonderful accompaniment, I end up putting a smear of fig jam onto pretty much everything. There was no question what I would do with those forgotten bags of figs.
Fresh or Frozen Figs?
My dad’s tree produces Celeste figs. They are small, about the size of a quarter, with greenish brown skins and pink insides. Regardless, I think this recipe would work for any type of fig.
Some fig types have thicker skins and may require peeling the skins. That’s why I prefer to freeze my figs before I use them. The act of freezing and thawing breaks down both the figs and the skin. Therefore, I’ve never had to peel my figs. I simply trim the stems.
How to Make Fig Preserves
First, trim and chop the figs. You can also pulse the figs in a blender to further break down the fruit. You’ll need six cups of fruit in all. Place the fruit in a large saucepan. Add 3 ½ cups of white granulated sugar to the pot and stir to combine. Let the fruit and sugar sit for 2 hours to allow the sugar to draw out the natural juice in the figs.
Next, add ¼ cup of bottled lemon juice. If you plan on canning these preserves, it’s very important to use bottled lemon juice. Figs do not naturally contain a lot of acid, which is needed to prevent the formation of bacteria during the canning process. We have to add some in the form of lemon juice. The acidity from lemon to lemon can vary, that’s why I don’t advise using freshly squeezed lemon juice. Bottled lemon juice has a consistent acid level and is what I recommend.
Bring everything to a boil over medium heat. Continue to boil for 15-20 minutes until the mixture has thickened to a spreadable consistency. For a little added flavor, I like to add three teaspoons of fresh lemon zest and ¼ teaspoon of ground nutmeg.
Don’t I Need to Add Pectin?
All my other jam and jelly recipes call for pectin. Pectin is a naturally occurring soluble fiber that also works as a thickener. Some fruits, such as apples, contain a lot of pectin naturally. Figs do not, but surprisingly, you don’t need to add any additional pectin. The reason is, as the figs cook down the natural sugars in the figs combine with the added granulated sugar and form a syrup.
How Can I Tell if my Preserves Have Set?
The preserves will continue to thicken as they cool. But if you are impatient like me, you can use something called the spoon test. Place a clean metal spoon in the freezer (I like to stick mine down in the ice bin) before you get started.
When the preserves come off the burner, remove the spoon from the freezer and dribble a few drops onto the cold spoon. This will give you a pretty good idea of how well your preserves will thicken.
What if my preserves don’t thicken?
If you’ve don’t the spoon test and you still don’t feel like your preserves are the consistency you’re looking for, you can return it to the burner and cook it down for a little longer. If you’re still struggling with the consistency after that, try adding a bit of pectin. Add it a teaspoon at a time, letting the preserves boil for a few minutes between each addition, before adding another teaspoon.
How to Store Fig Preserves
Cooled fig preserves need to be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and consumed within a month.
You can also can the preserves using the water bath canning method. Fill clean jars, leaving ¼-inch of headspace and process for 10 minutes. To learn more about water bath canning, check out my tutorial on water bath canning here.
How to Use Fig Preserves
Of course, my favorite use for fig preserves is on a meat and cheese tray. Here are a few other ideas to include include:
More Fig Recipes:
Homemade Fig Preserves
- 6 cups stemmed and chopped figs I used Celeste figs
- 3 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup bottled lemon juice
- 3 teaspoons lemon zest optional
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg optional
- In a large pot, combine the figs and sugar. Let them sit for about 2 hours.
- Add the lemon juice and stir to combine.
- Heat the pot over medium high heat until it comes to a boil.
- Cook down until the figs become very soft and the syrup begins to thicken, about 10-20 minutes.
- Add the lemon zest and nutmeg, if desired.
- Preserves will continue to thicken for 24-48 hours.
You can also can the preserves using the water bath canning method. Fill clean jars, leaving ¼-inch of headspace and process for 10 minutes.