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Fresh Fig and Lemon Preserves

Serves: Makes 2 to 2½ pints


  • 1 medium lemon
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 pounds black or green figs, stem ends removed


The plump Brown Turkey figs that Amy Hicks brings to farmers’ markets for customers of Amy’s Garden would be luscious in this easy jam, but any fresh figs will work. A finely chopped lemon, minus the seeds, helps balance the figs’ honeyed sweetness. Serve on English muffins, toast, or biscuits, or as an accompaniment to blue cheese.

Fill a canning kettle with enough water to cover the top of widemouthed canning jars (half-pints or mix of pints and half-pints) resting on the preserving rack. Bring to a boil. Wash the jars with hot, soapy water; rinse well, and keep upside down on a clean dish towel until you are ready to fill them. Put new lids (never reuse lids) in a heatproof bowl and cover with boiling water.

Remove the tips of the lemon and quarter it lengthwise. Cut away the white core. Pick out and discard any seeds. Cut the quarters in half and put them in a food processor with 1 cup of the sugar. Process as fine as possible. Add the figs and process until they are well chopped but not fully pureed. It is nice to leave the preserve a little coarse.

Transfer the contents of the processor bowl to a large nonreactive pot and stir in the remaining 1 cup sugar. Bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring, then simmer gently until the temperature reaches 200°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 15 minutes. You can also test for doneness by spooning a small amount of jam onto a chilled saucer. Return the saucer to the freezer until the jam is cold, then test to see if it has the consistency you like. It should be neither soupy nor stiff.

Ladle the hot jam into the jars, leaving ½-inch headspace. Wipe the jar rims clean with a damp paper towel. Top with the lids and then a screw band. Close tightly.

Place the jars on the preserving rack and lower it into the canning kettle. If the water doesn't cover the jars, add boiling water from a tea kettle. Cover the canning kettle. After the water returns to a boil, boil for 10 minutes. With a jar lifter, transfer the jars to a rack to cool completely. Do not touch the jars again until you hear the pops that indicate that the lids have sealed. You can confirm that a lid has sealed by pressing the center with your finger. If it gives, it has not sealed and the contents should be refrigerated and used within a month. Store the sealed jars in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. Refrigerate after opening.

by Sur La Table & Andrews McMeel Publishing

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