Fresh figs are the most prized of our farmers’ market finds in September, but here’s a way to enjoy their flavor all year long. The fruit’s lush sweetness shines through in this simple recipe, which works with any variety, from dark-skinned purple figs to green Adriatic. For some spice, add a pinch of star anise.
Once preserved, make a quick appetizer by serving the figs on crostini with goat cheese. Or, strike a perfect sweet-salty balance by adding a layer of preserves to a prosciutto pizza — it’s a beautiful dish for a dinner party.
3 lb. (1.5 kg.) figs such as Mission, Adriatic or Brown Turkey
4 cups (2 lb./1 kg.) sugar
1 1/4 cups (10 fl. oz./310 ml.) fresh orange juice
3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml.) fresh lemon juice
Grated zest of 1 orange
Have ready 5 hot, sterilized half-pint jars and their lids.
Trim the fig stems, leaving a little of the stem attached to each fig. In a large nonreactive saucepan, combine the sugar, orange juice and lemon juices. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the figs, reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring gently, for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the figs to a bowl. Add the orange zest to the syrup and cook, uncovered, until reduced by one-third, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the figs to the pan and cook for 1 minute to heat through.
Using the slotted spoon, divide the hot figs evenly among the jars. Ladle the syrup over the figs, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove any air bubbles and adjust the headspace, if necessary. Wipe the rims clean and seal tightly with the lids.
Process the jars in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes. The sealed jars can be stored in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year. If a seal has failed, store the jar in the refrigerator for up to 1 month. Makes 5 half-pint jars.
Find more recipes to put up the season’s bounty in our book The Art of Preserving, by Lisa Atwood, Rebecca Courchesne & Rick Field.