I recently had the incredible good fortune of being given a large bag of fresh figs, straight from the tree (in New Jersey, who knew?). Several weeks have passed now, during which I've decided that figs are absolutely my favorite fruit in the entire world. Because they are usually incredibly expensive and hard to get? Probably. They're also high in fiber and minerals, not too sweet or juicy, and are excellent raw or baked into a variety of snack cake-like items.
My first attempt at cooking something with the figs - rather than inhaling them out of the bag - was this fruit and sour cream gratin recipe and substituting blueberries for raspberries. It was good?, but got kind of watery and had the overwhelming taste of burnt sugar. I wanted something figgier that really showcased the fruit instead of used it as a filler on which to pile sugar and cream. Also, I don't really know how to pronounce gratin, so it feels rather fraudulent to even be writing about it in passing.
And in the midst of all this hemming and hawing, the figs started to turn and I was left with jam as the only viable option. Fortunately I stumbled upon this fantastic Bon Appetit recipe, which I scaled down and adjusted the proportions to my tastes (i.e. more on the Drunken and less on the sugary Jam side of things). It's a great unique flavor that is perfect for your fall cocktail parties on top of goat cheese crostini. If you're not the type for fancy finger food, this jam is awesome on toast, stirred into yogurt, and on top of salty cheese chunks. Yet more reasons to befriend a fig tree owner today.
Drunken Fig Jam
Adapted from Bon Appetit
Makes 1 pint of jam (475 mL)
Total time: 1 1/2 hours-1 3/4 hours (Active time 15 minutes)
- 1 lemon
- 20 ounces (565g) ripe (or overripe) fresh figs
- 1 cup (200g) sugar
- 1/3 cup (80mL) dark booze of choice (whiskey, cognac, or brandy)
- pinch of salt
Peel the lemon with a vegetable peeler into wide strips (yellow part only). Cut the zest into matchstick (or smaller) size pieces (about 1 1/2 tablespoons).
Chop the figs into 1/2 inch (1cm) chunks, removing the hard stem (you should have about 3 cups). Juice the lemon into a heavy saucepan and add the zest, sugar, booze of choice, and salt. Let stand at room temperature for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.*
Bring the fig mixture to a boil on high heat, and simmer over medium heat until the mixture has thickened and reduced to 2 cups, stirring frequently and breaking up large chunks with a fork/potato masher (about 20-30 minutes). Remove mixture from heat and pour into a jar.** Store in the freezer or fridge, where it will keep for a month or more.
*I'm not convinced this step is necessary and was going to skip it, but ended up forgetting and doing it anyway. I'd consider it optional.
**If you have a LOT of figs and want to do the whole canning-to-preserve-forever thing, follow the directions here.