Simple Fig Jam
October 12, 2011 § 3 Comments
The season for figs is waning away right before my eyes, which of course sets in a slight feeling of panic. No fresh figs until next July seems kind of, I don’t know, sadistic – so I did what any other person would do; I preserved them. Now, let me tell you, buying three dozen figs at once will earn you some soliciting stares from people you don’t know.
None the less, this jam is worth it. It’s going to be such a relief when I pop the lid off this baby in the middle of February to enjoy the closest thing there is to fresh figs in such a dreary month. The jam is really, truly simple. It is made with a mere four ingredients, all of which you may just have on hand, besides the fresh figs (unless you have a fig tree, in which case, let’s talk). I used honey, cane sugar & a lemon, rendering this a pectin-free recipe, my favorite kind.
Let’s talk about honey for a moment. Or better yet, let’s talk about bees. Earlier this fall I had the opportunity to take part in a late honey harvest with my boyfriend’s family. If you ever get the chance to be a part of a honey harvest, I eagerly encourage you to do it.
Bees are miraculous insects. Bees maintain a symbiotic relationship with flowers as they retrieve pollen, their protein source & nectar, their energy source. As bees fly from flower to flower picking up what they need, they loose some of the pollen that they have recently retrieved. The pollen (pollen is a flower’s gamete, or sex cell) they loose lands on the pistils of the flower (also known as the reproductive organs of the flower) & pollinates it. The bees store the nectar in their stomach then bring nectar back to the nest. While the nectar is in the bee’s stomach enzymes break it into simple sugars, fructose & glucose.
Upon arrival at the nest the bee stores the inverted nectar in six-sided cells & covers it with wax. The warmth of the hive causes the water to evaporate, leaving us, or the queen bee with a saccharine syrup, we know as honey. Honey, bee pollen & royal jelly (the food of the queen bee) contain many beneficial nutrients that can do everything from bolster our immune systems to ease our allergies. Bees not only produce honey, but they ensure biodiversity within our ecosystems. By avoiding chemical fertilizers, herbicides & pesticides we can help to keep bees thriving the way they should be.
Getting back to the jam; go now, buy your figs & while you’re out grab a jar of local honey. Local honey helps with allergies & tastes much more bold than the stuff you are probably used to.
3 dozen fresh black mission figs, stemmed & quartered, 1 2/3 cups of cane sugar, 1/3 cup local honey & 1 lemon*
* From the lemon you will need all of the juice, 2 Tbsp of zest & the rest of the rid peeled & cut into 1/2 strips.
Combine the quartered figs, lemon zest, lemon juice & the sugar. Cook over high heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Add the honey & the slices of lemon rind. Continue cooking & stir occasionally until the mixture thickens.
This does take some patiences, but I promise, after about 30 minutes, the mixture is sure to thicken right up (if not keep the heat up and the mixture moving). When finished, pour the jam into glass containers & store in the refrigerator for months. Upon refrigeration the jam will thicken even more.