Uncle Mike's Fig Preserves
Ms. Big Fig is one of my favorite plants. You might call her a pet plant. I love her because well, she's so old, and she's been a part of the farm for a long time. I had a friend come out who understands figs very well, and she said she figured Ms. Big Fig was close to a hundred years old. She is a Brown Turkey fig, and what's interesting about this variety is the fruit takes longer to ripen than some of the other varieties.
You'll find that Brown Turkey fruit is medium to large, with a reddish-brown skin tinged with purple. The pulp is reddish-pink and firm. It's an excellent variety for making home preserves.
One of the first things I do after picking figs is take the stems off of them and wash them. And then I freeze the figs in a plastic freezer bag. I know this may sound surprising but, it gives a better texture to the jam or the preserves that you're making. It will reduce some of the water, giving a stronger fig flavor.
The first task is sterilizing your jars by washing them, the bands and the lids in hot water. Pour boiling water over the lids to soften the gummy side.
Put your hot water bath on to boil while you are preparing the figs.
Thaw 5 cups of whole figs and put them in a large stock pot. Add 1 box of pectin (1 3/4 ounce) and 1 tablespoon of butter. The butter helps prevent the figs from foaming, and adds a nice flavor. Next add a 1/2 cup of lemon juice and a 1/2 cup water.
This is where you don't want to get into a hurry. Slowly bring the figs to a rolling boil. Mash the figs with a potato masher or the back of a large wooden spoon to distribute the fig pulp with the juice and get everything consistent. Lower the heat is to medium.
Now add 7 cups of sugar and return the preserves to a full boil. And stir, stir, and stir again. You want to make sure that nothing sticks. Stir the preserves for a full minute.
Ladle the preserves into jars, screw the lids on the jars until just secure but not tightened all the way. Carefully place the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Visit the USDA's website to learn more about hot water bath.
After 10 minutes remove the jars. When you hear the lids pop, they are sealed. Tighten the bands.
You'll find that fig preserves may take up to a week to "set up," as they say. After the hot water bath and you've tightened the bands, leave the jars upside down until the preserves have set up.
Time to prepare: 45 minutes.