This is the jam that started my love affair with canning. And, full disclosure, my desire to make jam stemmed from daydreaming about my Thanksgiving cheese plate. In August. Because I secretly think about and plan holidays months in advance. Now you know my deep, dark secret. Hanging my head in shame.
My dad has a fig tree, and as you know, figs are one of my favorite things in life. I thought blue cheese. I thought fig jam. Done.
I scoured cookbooks for recipes, and ended up combining a couple of recipes to get the flavor I was after – not too sweet, with the full flavor of fig but a little extra depth from balsamic vinegar. It’s pretty close to the recipe in Put ‘em Up, with the addition of the peppercorn sachet that gives it a nice peppery finish.
The skins are kept on the figs in this recipe. To break them down, boil the figs in water for five minutes and then mash them with a wooden spoon or potato masher. (1 &2). For the sachet, you can either use a piece of cheesecloth and tie with a cotton cord, or (if you’re lazy like me) you can buy these pre-made spice sachets at a hardware store (3). Cook down until nice and jammy, about 20 minutes (4).
Here’s what the drip check looks like to see if your jam has set. Another confirmation: see how the jam stays separate after I’ve run my spoon through it in the pan?
This jam is AWESOME. My cheese plate was a hit at Thanksgiving last year. Since then, I’ve also put it in almond butter sandwiches, slathered it on scones, put it in dessert bars, and eaten it by the spoonful. It’s also good on vanilla ice cream and stirred into oatmeal. This is probably my most popular jam – so please enjoy!
Peppered Balsamic Fig Jam
Adapted from Put ‘Em Up
Yield: 4 half pints
- 5 cups figs, de-stemmed and chopped (approximately 2 pounds or 18 figs)
- 1 cup water
- 3 tablespoons bottled lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon peppercorns, tied in a sachet of cheesecloth or in a spice bag
- 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup sugar
Bring the figs and water to a boil in a large nonreactive pot. Reduce heat and simmer 5 minutes to soften the fruit. Use a potato masher or wooden spoon to crush figs and break up the skins.
Add sugar, vinegar and lemon juice, and peppercorn sachet and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until thick and jammy but not dry, about 20 minutes.
Test for gel. Remove from the heat and set aside for 5 minutes, stirring to release air bubbles.
Ladle into clean, hot, 4-ounce or half-pint canning jars, leaving a quarter-inch of headspace. Release trapped air with a chopstick. Wipe the rims clean with a moistened paper towel; add lids and bands.
Process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Start timing only after full boil is reached.
Turn off heat, remove canner lid, and let jars rest in the water for 5 minutes. Remove jars and set aside for 24 hours. Check seals (press firmly on lid; lid should not flex), then store in a cool, dark place for up to a year.