Fresh from the garden: Fig preserves and fig jam

By Kathryn Jones


If you’re lucky enough to have a producing fig tree, you know that when the figs start ripening, you have to act fast. And now is the time when figs are at their peak.

Photo by Dan Malone

Photo by Dan Malone

We don’t have a fig tree, but we met a woman near Lake Whitney this spring when we stopped at her garage sale. Her yard had two of the biggest fig trees I’d ever seen. My husband, Dan, and I commented on them and how much we loved figs. She offered to take our phone number and give us a call when they were ready to pick because she had more than she could use.

We got that phone call last week and spent Saturday morning at Lakeside Village picking figs.

These were golden figs and rather small, but had a rich, sweet flavor. The birds were enjoying them, too.

We picked about six pounds. They seemed to ripen before our eyes, so I had to process them quickly. I made them six jars of fig preserves and seven jars of fig jam.

Figs are one of the most nutritional fruits, loaded with minerals and fiber. The taste especially pairs well with pork and crumbly cheeses like goat cheese or blue cheese.

I didn’t have a fig preserve or fig jam recipe, so I went online and found a lot, although some of them struck me as overly complicated. I wanted simple.

Photo by Kathryn Jones

Photo by Kathryn Jones

The fig preserve recipe that follows is super-easy and is one I adapted from the site. The original recipe called for sliced lemons; I just used the juice, which brightens the fig flavor and helps preserve the color. The results were delicious!

I also adapted the fig jam recipe to simply it. After it cooled, I tried a spoonful on a soft chunk of goat cheese – so, so good.

You can use any kinds of figs in these recipes. If you don’t have a fig tree or know someone who does, figs are available in most grocery stores this time of year.

One of our favorite ways to eat them is to wrap each fig in some prosciutto – you also can use thin-sliced bacon or Black Forest ham – and bake in the oven until the figs start oozing their syrup and the meat is crisp around the edges. The combination of sweet, salty and savory flavors makes a memorable first course that also is so easy to prepare.

For dinner one night I used the fig jam to make a fig-glazed pork tenderloin. Once again, the figs turned a simple preparation into something special and elegant. The leftovers the next day tasted even better. I can tell I may need to buy more figs soon because these jars are going to go empty fast!


Fig Preserves

2 pounds figs, unpeeled

3 cups granulated sugar

½ cup water

½ cup lemon juice

If you use large figs, cut them in half; otherwise, leave small figs whole. Wash in cold water and place figs in a large bowl, fill with cool water and let soak for 20 minutes.

Make a syrup by boiling the sugar, water and lemon juice in a saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat about 15 minutes until syrup is clear and thick.

Add figs and bring mixture to boil over high heat. Boil hard 1 minute.

Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes or until you have the desired thickness.

Ladle into clean, hot, sterile jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

(This made six half-pint jars worth of fig preserves.)


Fig Jam

(adapted from Food and Wine)

2 pounds figs, stemmed and cut into ½-inch pieces

1 ½ cups sugar

¼ cup plus 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

½ cup water


Toss the fig pieces with the sugar in a nonreactive saucepan and let stand for about 15 minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the figs are juicy.

Add the lemon juice and water, bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Simmer the jam over moderate heat about 20 minutes. The fruit should soften and the liquid should be thick.

Spoon into ½-pint jars. Process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.


Fig-Glazed Pork Tenderloin


1 pork tenderloin 3-4 pounds

1 jar fig preserves or jam

3 tsp. Dijon mustard

2 tsp. balsamic vinegar


Adjust the recipe if you use a smaller pork tenderloin. Rinse and dry the pork and season both sides with salt and pepper.

Line a shallow pan with foil – otherwise, you’ll have a sticky mess to clean — and place tenderloin in the pan.

Brush with glaze mixture on all sides.

Bake at 350 degrees for 40 to 50 minutes or until meat is cooked through. Brush with glaze during cooking process so meat doesn’t dry out. Let rest 10 minutes before carving.

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