Wow, I haven’t blogged in such a long time, I don’t know where to start. I’ve been literally staring at a blank screen for
hours days, preferring to be distracted by the tv, internet, snacking and napping over putting some words down. Are these the symptoms of writer’s block?
I suppose I should start with the inspiration for this recipe – my next door neighbour (picture short older woman of European descent with a heavy accent). Aside from being terrible at parking within her own parking stall, she’s actually a pretty good neighbour. After all, she does have the two most important characteristics of being a good neighbour: she’s quiet and she gives us food. 😉 We often get knocks on our door at night from her delivering some goodies such as apples she picked from a friend’s backyard, homemade bread and our favourite crepes.
A few weeks ago, I came home to find a sketchy looking plastic bag at the foot of our door. It wasn’t much of a mystery who the bag was from, but what was a mystery was what was in it. What was inside were these green little things (see below). After cutting one up, I thought they could be figs, but I wasn’t completely positive because I’ve never seen green figs before. After a quick google search, I found out that these were kadota figs….you learn something new everyday.
After solving the mystery, I had to decide what to do with these figs. They were all pretty ripe and some had already split, so they had to be eaten soon. And I couldn’t count on David to help me eat them since eating strange-looking fruits is not his forte. So, I decided to use these figs to make jam, something I’ve been wanting to try. I was going to use the berries we picked early on in the summer for my first attempt, but those could wait.
I decided on a drunken fig jam recipe. I mean, who doesn’t like their jam to be boozy? 😉
Having never canned before and not wanting to buy a bunch of things (canning rack, jar lifter, funnel, etc) aside from the jars and the lids for my first go at it, I had to improvise with what I had. For example, I used a wok to boil the jars of jam, I put the jars in a rack that came with my rice cooker to prevent direct contact with the wok and breakage, and I used large bbq thongs to remove the jars from the wok.
All in all, my first attempt at canning was a figgin’ success. 😉 Even though I didn’t have all the fancy canning tools, my improvisation worked and the jars were sealed properly. The jam is not overly sweet, a bit tangy and goes well with cheese and crackers. My only disappointment is that after making this, David told me that our neighbour doesn’t like jam, so I wasn’t able to share any with her. 😦
Recipe (adapted from bon appetit):
makes about six 1/2-pint jar (I made 2 jars)
- 2 lemons (I used 1/4 cup lemon peel and 1.5 tbsp lemon juice)
- 4 pounds ripe fresh figs (preferably black), stemmed, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 9 cups) (I used 7 figs)
- 4 cups sugar (I used 3/4 cup)
- 3/4 cup brandy or Cognac (I used ~3/4 tbsp brandy extract, or to taste)
- 1/2 teaspoon coarse kosher salt (I used 1 pinch)
- Using vegetable peeler, remove peel from lemons (yellow part only) in long strips. Cut peel into matchstick-size strips (about 3 tablespoons).
- Combine lemon peel and juice, figs, sugar, brandy, and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt in heavy large deep saucepan; let stand at room temperature 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
- Bring fig mixture to boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium; continue to boil until jam thickens and is reduced to 6 cups, stirring frequently and occasionally mashing mixture with potato masher to crush large fig pieces, 30 to 35 minutes (it took 15-20 min for me because I used fewer figs). Remove from heat.
- Ladle mixture into 6 hot clean 1/2-pint glass canning jars, leaving 1/4-inch space at top of jars. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe jar threads and rims with clean damp cloth. Cover with hot lids; apply screw bands. Process jars in pot of boiling water 10 minutes. Cool jars completely. Store in cool dark place up to 1 year.
Notes and Tips: