We have a very prolific fig tree in our backyard which we planted two years ago. He is a ‘Chicago Hardy‘ fig tree from GreensGrow.
GreensGrow is a great little nursery in Northern Liberties. Everything we’ve ever bought here has worked out very well except for the great ladybug experiment of 2011. Although GreensGrow is located in Hipsterville, the prices are very good and the selection is spot on. We prefer to shop there for our garden over the big box stores — nicer plant variety and similar prices.
Last year Figgy grew way too big and was providing too much shade in his section of our small backyard so Mr. MM chopped the heck out of him this past winter / early spring. This was NOT a light pruning. I was scared Mr. MM had committed fig murder. But alas, he’s almost 10 feet tall as I write this.
Last year I ate a few of the figs but most of them went to the critters. I love the way fig trees look. The structure of their trunks / branches. The shape and growth pattern of their leaves. But I’m not the biggest fan of eating figs and Mr. MM doesn’t like them at all. Big problem with our Figgy and his generosity.
This year while reading one of the blogs I follow, I saw they made fig jam. Bingo! We took a stab at making fig jam this year. After looking at various recipes, we decided to follow Tim’s recipe.
Mise en place.
- 8 cups firm ripe figs
- 2 cups unrefined sugar
- 1-inch knob of fresh ginger, peeled and diced
- 1 small lemon, thinly sliced
- juice of 1 additional lemon
- 3/4 cup of water
In a nonreactive pot (Le Creuset or similar), layer the figs with the lemon slices, sugar, sliced ginger, and lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight. We let them sit overnight in the refrigerator.
Add the 3/4 cup of water and cover the pot. Bring the fig mixture to a simmer over medium heat. Turn the figs down to low and slow cook covered. We found that they cooked for about 2 hours (as the Beastie Boys rap … Slow and low, that is the tempo) then vent the lid and cook for another 1/2 hour so the mixture thickens a bit as so:
Transfer the fig mixture (with the lemon and the ginger) to sterilized jars. We really like the short jars that Tim used but we opted for traditional Ball jam jars.
We filled 8 eight ounce Ball jelly jars and sealed them tightly, then submersed them in a large pot of boiling water for a minimum of 20 minutes. Remove the jars from the water and let them cool. Once cooled, check to see if the jars are sealed by pressing on the center of the lid. If it flexes up and down, it’s not sealed and should be refrigerated for immediate use. Two of our jars did not seal. We suspect it was because we left too much space between the fig jam and the top rim of the jars. Lesson learned.
On the bright side, we planned to add it to a cheese tray. The cheesemonger at DiBruno Brothers based his recommendations on the fig jam inclusion.
Cheese 1: Delice de Bourgogne is a French triple cream which marries full-fat cow milk with fresh cream producing a rich whipped delight. Unlike alot of triple creams this one has a thin pungent mold rind that compliments the sweet interior with a bit of straw and general funk.
Cheese 2: Moliterno Biancosardo is a dense firm Italian sheep’s milk cheese that is earthy, sweet, and nutty.
Cheese 3: Colston Bassett Stilton. Does this guy need any introduction? This cow’s milk cheese was first served in 1720 in Stilton, England. Colston Bassett is the only Stilton that uses traditional animal rennent. Buttery in texture with loads of funk and a mineral tang. This cheese is AMAZING with Port. It’s one of Mr. MM’s favorites. The cheesemonger convinced us to buy some Amarena Wild Cherries to eat with this cheese. AMAZING. I can still conjure up that magical blend of flavors in my mouth.
We also mixed in a lovely country pate made with cognac, white sardines, and crusty French bread. And nice sparkling Cava.
From left to right: cheese 2, fig jam and pate, cheese 1 and cherries, cheese 3 and white sardines.
Enjoyed on our front porch for happy hour!
The fig jam is delicious! It’s crazy how expensive fig jams can be. Scyavuru Black Fig Jam
(from Sicily) was spotted at Eataly: 8.1 ounces for $8.80.
Next harvest I want to swap out the ginger and sliced lemon for the juice of two lemons, 2 teaspoons of peppercorns (tied in a sachet of cheesecloth) and 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar. Come on, Figgy!