Fig & Star Anise Jam

Figs. They’re a luscious, decadent autumn crop that, while abundant, is short-lived, with fruit going from underripe to squishy mess in a manner of days.

So, if you’ve got access to a fig tree, you know it’s important to have a list of recipes ready to go when the season hits, as it’s likely you’ll have to process kilos and kilos of fruit in a week to make the most of the yield. To help you out, we’re sharing our favourite jam recipe below as well as a list of ideas to try with your figgy harvest.

Ideas for using up figs:

  • Make jam
  • Make chutney
  • Dehydrate in slices, wedges or whole
  • Blend with spices and dehydrate fruit leather
  • Bottle/preserve whole using hot-water bath method
  • Preserve in honey
  • Make infused spirits/liqueurs
  • Freeze whole on tray then store in large containers in freezer
  • Bake cakes, muffins and slices with fig & spices
  • Poach and serve with roast meats
  • Eat fresh with yoghurt or ice cream
  • Serve drizzled with honey on a grazing platter
  • Bake whole with honey & cinnamon and serve with crême fraiche

We’ve mentioned spices a few times above and while it’s up to you which ones you prefer, typically the following ‘warm’ slices pair particularly well with figs: cinnamon, cardamon, cloves, star anise, bay, pepper, ginger, mustard. Other ingredients that complement figs well are earl grey tea, apples, pears, quince, rich cheeses like Camembert & blue cheese, sharp fresh flavours like goats cheese or crême fraiche, and red wine or port.

Hopefully having some of these ideas will help you make the most of a fig harvest, and allow you to Catch and Store Energy.

Now, on to the jam! We’ve spiced this jam with star anise, but you could easily replace that with a bit of grated fresh ginger or some finely minced crystallised ginger, or a stick of cinnamon, or you could try replacing the water with some strong brewed Earl Grey tea.

Ingredients:

2kg fresh ripe figs

1kg apples, peeled

1 fresh lemon

500ml water

1.5kg sugar

1-2 whole star anise

Makes roughly 7x 270ml jars

Method

1. Wash figs and remove stalks. Chop into smallish bits and add to heavy-based pot.

2. Grate apple flesh into the pot. Hang on to peels and cores to make some apple scrap vinegar.

3. Squeeze lemon juice into pot and chuck the carcass in as well.

4. Add water, sugar and star anise. Stir well.

5. Pop the pan over a medium-high heat and bring to the boil. Stir occasionally to ensure sugar is completely melted.

5. Keep at a ‘rolling boil’ until jam reaches a Set. Test for a set by dripping a bit onto a cold plate, waiting til it cools, and seeing if it wrinkles/gels when you poke your finger through it.

6. Skim off any scum, then let sit for 5-10 minutes off the heat. This helps the fruit distribute evenly rather than float at the top.

7. Remove lemon and star anise.

8. Stir, then pour jam into hot sterilised jars and seal with boiled lids while hot.

Store in a cool dark cupboard for up to 12 months before opening, then in the fridge once you’ve cracked the jar.

NOTES

* If doubling this recipe, mix all your ingredients in one large bowl and then divide between two large pots. Your jamming pot should generally be no more than 1/3 full to allow for bubbling and frothing during the boiling process.

* When you’ve filled all of your jars, there will be some scrappy bits of jam left in the pot: scrape it out with a spatula and keep in a little container for adding to porridge, or cakes, or yoghurt.

* Foraged apples are great for this recipe, as they’re usually in abundance at the same time as figs, and they’re usually more tart than commercial apples due to a high pectin content – this is what helps jam set well.

* When using foraged apples, watch out for coddling moth grubs. These fat white grubs chew tunnels through fruit, leaving behind crumbly black-brown powder. Cut these bits out, and the rest of the apple is fine to use.

* Save apple peels & cores (if unaffected by coddling moth) to make apple scrap vinegar with. It’s great for lots of things, from salad dressings to cleaning liquid to hair conditioner!

Permaculture Principle 2: Catch & store energy; 3: Obtain a yield; 6: Produce no waste; 10: Use and value diversity; 11: Use edges and value the marginal.

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