Monday, September 5, 2011

Drunken Fig Jam

So much to do, so little time.  That's how I feel lately.  This weekend has been a whirlwind of canning, cooking and baking and feeling somewhat pressured.  This pressure was all brought on by myself.  I have an obligation (I hate that word) to not waste the gazillion sweet millions tomatoes and bumper crop of eggplant in my garden.  I have herbs that need to be dried, frozen or turned into something else.  Oh, and prolific jalapenos need pickling, add that to my to do list.  Before I get into the eggplant and tomato mess,  I found myself running to the market on Friday to pick up a baguette and some garlic.  I decided to cruise through the produce section since I was there anyway.  I noticed the new crop of early apples creeping in and it suddenly dawned on me, summer is fading away and will soon be just a memory.  I walked straight past the peaches and quickly did an about face and decided to pick up just a few more pounds.  Then I zoomed in on some Italian prune plums, and thought to myself, isn't there something I wanted to make with those?  Oh, I'll pick up just a few pounds of those too.  And then there were figs, beautiful plump fresh figs.  Now how much longer are these babies going to be around?  Yes, I talk to myself mostly because I like my answers.  There were so many fig recipes I had planned to try.  A few pounds of figs magically jumped into my basket.

I soon returned home with my figs, plums, peaches and yes, my baguette and garlic. They all joined the  eggplant, tomatoes, jalapenos, herbs and I forget to mention, the over-ripened bananas that I promised to magically turn into muffins for Paul.  Like I said, so much to do, so little time.

It is now Monday morning.  My frenzy is over, at least for now.  My kitchen is sort of sticky and is crying out for a good cleaning.  I have lots of blogging material and tons of pictures to sort through.  But this weekend was not all work.  We got to go out one night for a nice osso bucco dinner and last night we went to Jones Beach to see Stevie Nicks in concert. (yea Groupon!)  Yup, its Labor Day.  The unofficial end of summer.  Today I may just take the day off, because tomorrow at 8:30AM my quiet summer is over, but that's another story.  I won't go there.  I don't even want think about it.  I do want to tell you about this drunken fig jam.

I've been wanting to make fig jam for about a year, ever since I saw an hors d'oeuvre in a magazine that paired brie with fig jam.  Something about that combination intrigued me.  I love fresh figs stuffed with goat cheese, but sadly fresh figs are only available during the summer around here.  Homemade fig jam would mean that I could create an elegant appetizer with brie or goat cheese, and maybe even a little prosciutto or  a piece of caramelized onion any time I wish.  I think it will be a great thing to have on hand for the holidays.  I had been thinking about making a fig jam with port, but decided to go with this jam instead that uses brandy after I read all the reviews.  I took the advice of the many reviewers and tweaked the recipe just a little more.  The results created a jam to behold.  If you are new to making jam you may want to read this post first.
Adapted from
Originally appeared in Bon Appetit, October 2008 
Makes 4-5 1/2 pints  (I got 5)

  • 3 pounds Black Mission figs (about 7 cups)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2/3 cup brandy
  • the peel of 2 lemons
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary (optional)

 Sterilize 5- 1/2 pint jars, rings and prepare lids for canning.

Wash and dry figs.  Remove stems and cut figs into 1/2" pieces.

Using a vegetable peeler, remove yellow part of skin (try not to cut into the pith) in long segments.  The longer the better, because you will be removing them from the cooked jam later.
In a heavy pan or dutch oven, mix the cut figs, sugar, brandy, salt and lemon peel.  Allow to sit at room temperature an macerate.  Stir mixture occasionally.  
Add the rosemary sprig if using.  Heat fig mixture over medium high heat and cook until sugar dissolves, stirring often .  Turn heat down to medium and continue cooking, mixture will be boiling, but not a spitting boil, for 30 minutes or until liquids evaporate and mixture thickens to a jam like consistancy.  As the mixture is cooking, stir often and as figs are soften, mash them with a potato masher.  
Remove from heat and remove rosemary sprig and fish out the lemon peel using a fork and discard.

Ladle jam into sterilized, 1/2 pint jars leaving 1/4" of headspace in each jar.  Wipe rims of jars with a clean damp towel.  Place lids on jars and screw on rings.  Carefully place jars in a boiling water bath and process for 10 minutes (at sea level).
Remove from bath, and allow to cool on a counter top covered with a folded towel, away from drafts.  Do not bump, allow to cool overnight.
Store in a cool dark place.  Jam will keep for a year.
This jam pairs with soft and semi-soft cheese, nut pate, or maybe heat a spoonful of jam and thin it with a touch of brandy and pour it over vanilla ice cream for a sophisticated treat.  I'm thinking some fig rugalach might be on the agenda this fall.  Any other ideas?

Stay tuned for the rest of my frenzied cooking spree.


  1. What a wonderful post! We DO have a fig tree, but we've been eating almost all of them fresh from the tree! Over 100 figs from one small tree next to the house.

  2. Wow Leonore! 100 figs! How old is the tree? I read an article in the NY Times recently about all the fig trees that have died NYC, especially Brooklyn. Not sure if their demise occurred as a result of some cold winter or the old generation Italian grandpas are no longer around to tend to them!

  3. Dorothy Lombardi VoightSeptember 15, 2011 at 8:49 PM

    Diane, my Grandpa Lombardi had a fig tree in his backyard in Brooklyn....we were always allowed to pick them and eat them, nice memory!