1 1/2 lbs figs 2 cups sugar
2 cups sugar
3/4 cup lemon juicezest of one lemon
Have ready 3 hot, sterilized half-pint jars and their lids.
If using raw figs, trim the fig stems, leaving a little of the stem attached to each fig. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar and lemon juice. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the figs and strawberries (if using), reduce the heat to medium and cook, stirring gently, for 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the figs to a bowl. Add the lemon zest to the syrup and cook, uncovered, until reduced by one-third, 2 to 3 minutes. Return the figs (and strawberries, if using) to the pan and cook for 1 minute to heat through.
Divide the solids evenly among the jars. Ladle the syrup over the fruit, 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.
Adapted from The Art of Preserving, by Lisa Atwood, Rebecca Courchesne & Rick Field (Weldon Owen, 2010).
Updated: June 9, 2013 6:07AM
If celebrating Mother’s Day has reached the point where drugstore bouquets and diner breakfasts constitute a fairly recognizable pattern, then it could be time to bring back the spark to the holiday—for you and for mom.
Visions of Mother’s Day celebrations dance in our heads from the earliest days of warm weather. The first spring brunches of the season, freshly snipped flowers from the garden and poignant gifts that speak of crafty talent set the bar. But come Mother’s Day weekend, those very time-consuming parts of the celebration often fall apart. Big aspirations, but little motivation—that seems to be the reoccurring trend.
The solution, then, is to downsize the presentation: give an edible gift. That way, at least part of a homespun Mother’s Day brunch and a thoughtful present can be condensed into one item. And if it’s something as abundant as a jar (or jars) of mom’s favorite preserves, the gift will last well past the Sunday celebration.
Fig preserves, although they stray from the usual, offer a unique substitute to the traditional fruit preserves. Summertime’s crop of strawberries, raspberries, peaches and blueberries have yet to arrive, so whip up a batch of this earthy and sweet spread. Ripe, raw Mission figs combine with lemon juice and lemon zest for a purple spread—perfect for spreading on toast, cheese, crackers, or even drizzling over salads. Dried figs can be substituted, if that’s all that is available, but the amount of sugar will have to cut back. Dried fig preserves have a similar flavor to the filling in cookies, dark and syrupy sweet.
Strawberries, an optional ingredient, provide the smallest amount of added flavor and texture. It’s nothing major, but a nice bit of fruity sweetness.
For Mother’s Day, use these preserves spread over brie at brunch, dolloped on freshly baked bread, or intertwined in an ham and egg casserole. Homemade and poignant, this gift works overtime and special holidays like these.