If a fig tree is anywhere near a sidewalk or roadway in Greece, any fruits over the property line is fair game for passers by.
Figs (συκα pronounced SEE-kah for plural, συκο pronounced SEE-koh for singular) are a summer staple across the countryside and in Greek villages. They are perfectly adapted for the Mediterranean climate and produce an obscene abundance of tasty fruits each season. Trust me that no one would really notice if the occasional fig was snatched up by a hungry person walking by. My own tree, and that of my parents’, bury us in an avalanche to the point I don’t even mind when the birds get to some. Some, not all. I will fight them if they start getting a little too greedy.
Much of our harvest makes it to the dehydrator for snacks, as well as to the freezer for use in treats throughout the year. There is always plenty more for fresh eating, as well as for making an easy jam that is just as perfect for a pb&j, as it is for toast or even slathered on pancakes and waffles.
Figs are not a high pectin fruit, but have just enough that they can be made into jam more-or-less in the same manner as other fruits. The problem is that it requires an un-Godly amount of sugar to do so. In fact, more sugar than fruit! However, if you make it more like a fruit “butter” with a cook down method rather than setting it by temperature, you get a sweet and chunky spread just as good as any other style of preserve. The honey in this recipe also adds a unique touch that makes this so good!
Fig & Honey Jam Recipe
If you are new to canning, please read my post on canning here. Since this method does not get heating to the same high temperature as typical jam, it is necessary to do a “hot water bath” to ensure a proper seal and for food safety.
For every one packed cup of fresh figs, peeled and cut into small chunks, you will need:
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/2 cup of water
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
Since this recipe does not rely on reaching a set temperature in a critical time frame, you can work with larger quantities than a typical jam recipe. However, the more material you start with, the longer it has to cook in order to reach the proper consistency. You will still be better off working with no more than 8 cups of mixture at a time.
Put all your ingredients into a large stock pot and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes to extract out the liquid from the figs. You can even put the pot in the fridge, covered, for several hours if you need to space out your time.
Once you are ready, sterilize your jars, lids, ladle, funnel, etc. Use half-pint sized jars. Keep them hot until the jam is almost ready. As the jam starts to thicken, you will want to work quickly to have your jars ready to be filled so that the jam does not get overly cooled. Have a pot ready for your hot-water bath. You will need a pot deep enough to hold your covered jars and have them submerged under water while on a rack to keep the jars from being knocked around. Remember that your full jars will displace some of the water, so determine in advance how much water you will need. Start boiling the water in the pot when you start cooking your jam. If the jam is not ready when the water boils, just keep the pot at a low simmer to keep it hot.
Bring your jam mixture to a boil, then drop the heat down to maintain a strong simmer. The mixture will have a tendency of wanting to bubble up and out of the pot at first so you will need to stir occasionally and don’t leave it unattended. You can remove the pot from the heat until the foam subsides as needed. As it thickens, this will stop happening, but it will require more stirring to keep the jam from sticking and burning on the bottom. You will also need to lower the heat gradually as it begins to thicken to keep it from splattering on you. It’s hot and it hurts.
The jam is ready once the mixture is thick and can somewhat mound up on a spoon. Remember that it will thicken up more as it cools, so don’t be tempted to keep going until it is stiff goo. Unfortunately, there is no definitive way to know when it is done, but if your jam turns out too thin, you can always cook it down again later. You don’t even need to dump all the jars at once, you can just empty a jar into a small pot and heat it for a few more minutes and it will likely set very nicely. If your jam turns out too thick, just put the jar in the microwave for a few seconds then stir in some water until it is a little thinner. In both cases, just cover the jar and store it in the refrigerator from there. No harm done!
Once the jam is ready to go into the jars, work quickly to fill them. Make sure the hot water bath is brought back to a boil. Cover each jar with the lids and put the jars into the boiling water. The water should go over the top of each jar by about an inch. Cover the pot and process for 5 minutes. Remove from the water and set someplace where they can cool, undisturbed. If you used two piece lids, remove the screw ring and wipe down the jars and the screw rings from any trace of jam. Check that the jars are sealed, then you can put the rings back on. Now you can enjoy the lovely taste of fresh fig any time of the year!