Fresh figs and ripe strawberries really bring out the flavor in this recipe for simple homemade strawberry fig preserves.
A few years ago, when I first discovered jam making, I went a little overboard. To the point where I had to ban myself from making anymore jam until we ate the stockpile that was accumulating in our pantry.
When we finally make it down the last jar, it was the dead of winter. Not a fresh berry or juicy peach to be had for months! At the beginning of March, I began stalking the Facebook page of the farmer’s market down the street for signs of fresh Louisiana strawberries. Last week I finally managed to snag a flat. Driving down the road with the windows down, the sun shining, and a box of fresh strawberries in the seat next to you is good for the soul.
How to Make Strawberry Fig Preserves
I swore if I only had time to make one jam recipe this season, it had to be for strawberry fig preserves. It’s my favorite of all the jam recipes I’ve tried. Somehow the figs make the strawberries taste more strawberrier (totally a word).
Unfortunately, strawberries and figs come into season at different times. It’s okay to use frozen fruit if you have to. Every fall, my parents give me a big Ziploc bag of fresh figs from their tree. I always freeze them until strawberries are available in March. Just be sure to let the fruit thaw completely first.
Ingredients You Will Need
- 3 cups fresh or frozen strawberries washed, hulled and sliced
- 3 cups fresh or frozen figs, stemmed and chopped
- ¼ cup bottled lemon juice
- 4 cups granulated sugar
- 1-3 tablespoons pectin such as Sure-Jell
Chop and Cook Down the Fruit:
Place the strawberries and figs in a blender or food processor. Pulse a few times until the preserves reach your desired consistency. I like my preserves to be on the chunky side, so I leave a few bits of fruit remaining. Pour the pulsed fruit into a large saucepan.
Add 1/4 cup of bottled lemon juice. Why bottled over fresh? Lemon juice plays two important roles in jam making. First, it increases the pectin’s ability to gel. Second, the acid in the juice prohibits the formation of bacteria. Achieving the correct level of acidity is crucial. Unfortunately, some lemons are more acidic than others. Bottled lemon juice has a consistent acidity level and is recommended over fresh for making homemade jam.
Add the Pectin
Next, add the pectin. Pectin is a naturally soluble fiber used as a thickening agent. Some fruits and vegetables – such as apples – contain more pectin that others. Strawberries and figs do not contain a lot of natural pectin; therefore, we need to add it. I used a low-sugar-needed pectin that allows me to cut back on the amount of sugar I used in the jam. Stir the pectin into the fruit until it is dissolved.
Bring mixture to a full rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly so the fruit doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Full rolling boil means that the boiling does not stop when you stir.
Add the Sugar
Sugar does more than just make the jam taste good. First, it works with the pectin to help the preserves thicken. Sugar also helps keep the color of the fruit and prevents the formation of mold or bacteria.
It is important to use the exact amount of sugar called for in a recipe. Using less might result in jam that doesn’t gel. Most experts recommend using white granulated sugar. However, you can substitute up to 1/4 cup of the amount of sugar called for with other sweeteners such as stevia, honey, molasses, or brown sugar.
Place one tablespoon of unsalted butter on top of the strawberry fig preserves and bring it back to a rolling boil over medium high heat. Boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove the pan from the heat and remove any foam, if any, that has formed on the top.
Why Add a Tablespoon of Butter?
This may seem like a strange addition, but it serves a purpose. Once the sugar has been stirred in, we’re going to bring the jam to a boil. As it boils, foam will start forming on the surface. The foam won’t hurt you or the jam. In fact, you don’t have to remove it at all. But it can make the preserves cloudy. The protein in the butter cuts the surface tension and reduces the foam. It will not affect the flavor.
The Spoon Test
Here’s the million dollar question … after all that, how can you tell if your preserves have set? The jam will continue to thicken as it cools. But there is one way to determine right away if all your hard work has paid off — the spoon test.
Place a metal spoon in the freezer for several minutes. Once it is good and cold, remove it from the freezer and dribble a few drops of warm preserves into the bowl. The preserves should thicken up almost instantly.
What if My Jam Doesn’t Set?
Don’t despair. Measure out the jam, then pour it into a saucepan. Bring the jam to a boil, then for every four cups of jam stir in 1/4 cup of white sugar and one tablespoon powdered pectin. If you have more than eight cups, you’ll need to work in batches. Cook for 5-10 minutes, stirring constantly. Test to see if it’s set using the frozen spoon method I describe above.
Can This Recipe be Doubled?
This recipe should yield approximately four (8 ounce) jelly jars, or two pint jars. This recipe can be doubled. However, I would not recommend trying to triple or quadruple the recipe. It can affect your cooking time and prevent the jam from setting properly.
How Long Will Homemade Strawberry Preserves Last?
Opened strawberry fig jam should be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator and consumed within one month.
The preserves can also be frozen for up to a year. Be sure to leave 1/2-inch of clearance (headspace) between the jam and the top of the container to allow for expansion as it freezes. Jam that has been frozen should be thawed in the refrigerator. Once thawed, it may be a little more on the runny side than jam that has not been frozen.
My preferred method of storage is water bath canning. This method is safe for foods with high acid, such as tomatoes, fruits, jams, jellies, pickles and other preserves. I explain everything you need to know about water bath canning in this post. When filling jars for canning, leave 1/4-inch of headspace and process for 10 minutes.
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Strawberry Fig Preserves
- 3 cup strawberries washed, hulled and sliced
- 3 cups fresh figs stemmed and chopped
- ¼ cup bottled lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons pectin such as Sure-Jell
- 4 cups white granulated sugar*
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- Pulse strawberries and figs in a food processor. Continue to pulse until fruit reaches your desire consistency – I like my jam a little on the chunky side.
- Place sliced strawberries and figs in a 6- or 8-quart saucepan.
- Stir in lemon juice, then gradually add pectin.
- Bring mixture to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring constantly.
- Add the sugar and stir to dissolve.
- Place the butter on top of the preserves.
- Return mixture to a boil. Continue to boil for one minute, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat. Skim foam if desired.
- The jam will continue to thicken as it cools. However, if you would like a thicker jam, add additional pectin and bring the jam to a full rolling boil again. Boil hard for one minute.
- At this point you can process the jar using a water bath canning method, or you can store your jam in the fridge.