Catching Katy

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Fig Jam

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In the process of buying our house a few months ago, we were at the house a number of times for various walk-throughs and inspections. But it wasn’t until after we moved in that we noticed the large tree on the side of the house with something growing on it. After some picture sharing and investigating, we determined that it is a fig tree! And it is a beautiful fig tree.

Over the next couple of weeks, I would mention this to people and so many would reply that they love figs and/or volunteered to make fig jam. Well I immediately started doing some research. When are figs ripe? How do you know they’re ripe? What do you do after you pick them? I learned more about figs in a week than I had known my entire life!

Well, fast forward a few weeks. We got back into town from a long weekend in DC and discovered that the figs were ripe (a good month before everything I read said they would be). We proceeded to fill a large basket with figs on that one day. And the next day. And the next day. We picked that entire week and luckily read that you could freeze them before making jam. Just rinse, cut off them stems, and freeze in a freezer bag! We ended up with about 4 gallon-size bags of figs. Just make sure you thaw them before canning.

My mother-in-law and brother-in-law were two of the first to volunteer to make jam, so that weekend they came over and we got to work. It was not difficult, just a little time-consuming. We decided to make 2 different recipes since we had so many figs: regular fig preserves and strawberry fig jam.

Next you may ask what the different between preserves and jam is. It’s pretty much the consistency. Preserves have the whole fruit or chunks of the fruit, while jam is more mashed. In our first full batch, where we made both, the jam also “set” more than the preserves, which were more runny and in more of a sauce. They are delicious either way, I think it’s just personal preference!

The first and last steps will be the same no matter what you are canning. First you have to sterilize the jars. lids, and rings. Simply place the jars, lids, and rings in boiling water for at least 5 minutes. You can let them sit in the water until you’re ready to fill them.

Now for what you put in the jars! Recipes vary slightly, as you’ll see below, but most involve the fruit, sugar, and water. We did the strawberry fig first. For that one we combined the figs and sugar in a pot. Let that cool for a while then add a box of strawberry Jell-O®. Boil for about 7 minutes. Figs are really juicy, so you don’t even need the water that a lot of recipes call for. It also, again, depends on what consistency you like. Lastly, if you want a more jam-like consistency, simply mash it all up with a potato masher. (recipe from allrecipes)

The regular fig preserve recipe did use water and we did preserves (didn’t mash it all up), so the final consistency was not as congealed, but you can use less water than the recipe calls for if you want it thicker. You toss the figs and sugar together (not over any heat) and stir occasionally, for about 15 minutes. Then add water and lemon juice and bring to a boil. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Simmer over medium heat for about 20 minutes. (recipe from Food and Wine)

Now is where your typical canning steps pick up again. When you’re ready to fill them, use a jar lifter (this is a handy one on Amazon – you can pick it up and dump it without burning your hands!) to remove from the water, and fill with your jam. I used a measuring cup to fill my jars.

After you fill them, you will wipe the jar to remove any drips and put on the lid and ring. I used a towel to hold the jar while doing this since they are still warm (glass stays hot for a while).

After all your jars are filled, you’ll fill a large stockpot half with water and bring it a boil. Use your hand jar holder and put in your sealed jars. Make sure there’s about an inch of water over the jars – add more water if needed. Let them boil for about 10 minutes then remove (jar lifter!) them to cool on a towel.

The recipes calls for 1/2 pint jars but we used pint jars. And we still got 12 jars out of it – and didn’t even use all the figs. Again, this is pretty simple, just a little time consuming, but definitely worth having homegrown and homemade jam!

Here are the recipes for both and you can download them and/or print. Enjoy!


Strawberry Fig Preserves

Ingredients

  • 4 C fresh figs, stems removed
  • 3 C white sugar
  • 1 3oz. package strawberry Jello-O
  • 5 1/2 pint canning jars with lids and rings

Instructions

  1. Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water for at least 5 minutes.
  2. Mix figs and sugar together in a large saucepan over medium heat and cook, stirring often until sugar has dissolved.
  3. Mix in strawberry gelatin. Bring to a boil and boil for 7 minutes.
  4. Mash preserves with a potato masher (if you want jam) or don’t (if you want preserves)
  5. Pack jam into the hot, sterilized jars, filling to within 1⁄4 inch of the top.
  6. Run a knife or thin spatula around the insides of jars after they have been filled to remove any air bubbles.
  7. Wipe the rims of the jars with a moist paper towel to remove any drips. Top with lids and screw on rings.
  8. Fill a large stockpot halfway with water and bring to a boil. Lower filled jars into boiling water using a jar holder. Leave a 2-inch space between the jars. Pour in more water, if necessary, so that water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars.
  9. Bring the water to a rolling boil, cover the pot, and leave for 10 minutes.
  10. Remove from pot and let cool on a dishcloth. Once cool, press on the lids to confirm that they have “popped” – lid does not move up or down.

Fig Jam

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs. figs, stemmed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 1/2 C sugar
  • 1/4 C + 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/2 C water

Instructions

  1. Sterilize the jars and lids in boiling water for at least 5 minutes.
  2. In large, nonreactive saucepan, toss the fig pieces with the sugar and let stand, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until the sugar is mostly dissolved and figs are juicy.
  3. Add lemon juice and water. Bring to a boil, stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved
  4. Simmer jam over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fruit is soft and the liquid runs off the side of a spoon in thick, heavy drops – about 20 minutes.
  5. Optional – mash fruit with a potato masher.
  6. Pack jam into the hot, sterilized jars, filling to within 1⁄4 inch of the top.
  7. Wipe the rims of the jars with a moist paper towel to remove any drips. Top with lids and screw on rings.
  8. Fill a large stockpot halfway with water and bring to a boil. Lower filled jars into boiling water using a jar holder. Leave a 2-inch space between the jars. Pour in more water, if necessary, so that water level is at least 1 inch above the tops of the jars.
  9. Bring the water to a rolling boil, cover the pot, and leave for 10 minutes.
  10. Remove from pot and let cool on a dishcloth. Once cool, press on the lids to confirm that they have “popped” – lid does not move up or down.

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