I've never been much of a cook. But, even before we bought Content. I always imagined myself in a kitchen. I love the idea of wearing a ruffle pipped apron and effortlessly flitting from fridge, to stove. Unfortunately, for John, I wasn't dreaming of producing elaborate steak dinners, kept warm for his grand entrance at the end of a hard day. Rather, I had my mind set on making pretty cakes, dozens of perfectly golden cookies and, for some strange reason, canning and jarring.
When we lived in our Hoboken apartment, John and I would take classes at the Lower East Side Whole Foods in Manhattan. One of the classes that we took was 'Preserving the Harvest' where we learned how to pickle, mostly, but also learned the basics of canning.
In class we learned to chop the vegetables, just so, produce a brine, drink the wine pairing, silently wonder where I could purchase our teacher's hippie caftan, drink the wine pairing, and then snap back to reality just in time to hear, "So, with those basic precautions, you prevent Botulism."
Assuming I'd work out the food poisoning-kinks when the time came, I eagerly added a canning stock pot to our wedding registry, received one at my shower and promptly put it in storage where it's remained for the last 3 years.
But, as surprises tend to come-round here at Content., for whatever reason, this was the year our fig tree decided to catch up to the renovation.
The first year in Content. my brother-in-law, Joe, came over with burlap, plastic bins and twine to get our fig cozy for winter. That's spring we unwrapped the fig and patiently waited for our summer bounty. Except that bounty never came... At most we got six figs. Pretty disappointing.
After spending so much time preparing the fig, with such a weenie outcome, I more or less put its care on the back burner. It hasn't been wrapped. It hasn't been fertilized. And yet this summer I have more figs than I know what to do with!
Early September has been dedicated to harvesting and preserving our figs. I even wore an apron!
Life Hack: Save your egg cartons for easy fig storage and transport to friends!
Here's the novice recipe that I used from Food.com including some of the tweaks I made along the way. I should say - though canning and preserving take a long time in preparation, the process is extremely simple!
By Diana Adcock
Prep Time: 25 mins
Total Time: 1 hr 25 mins
Yield: 3 half pints
2 lbs figs, unpeeled (approx 24 small figs)
3 cups granulated sugar (Modified: I used 1 1/2 cups and it was still PLENTY sweet)
1 cup water
1/2 lemon, sliced thin
1/4 tsp of vanilla extract (Modified: I read somewhere that vanilla created a more complex flavor)
Wash figs gently in cold water.
Place in a large bowl, fill with cool water and soak for 20 minutes.
Make a syrup by boiling the sugar and water together in a large saucepan.
When syrup is clear and just thick, around 15 minutes add figs and lemon slices.
Bring to a boil over high heat.
Boil hard 1 minute.
Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Remove from heat.
Carefully pour into a blender and pulse to grind figs and lemon slices. (Modified: Batch #1 I blended lemon into preserves. Though delicious, results were extremelylemony. We'll likely use it as a pork marinade. Batch #2 I removed the lemon after boiling, and was much happier with this flavor as a sweet jelly.)
You may want to cook down for 10 or 15 more minutes to desired thickness. (Batch #1 cooked for an additional 15 and resulted in more of a paste. Batch #2, cooked down for 10 min and was more jelly-like.)
Ladle into clean hot sterile jars and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
This is the canning setup that I have used for the past few seasons, the Victorio Stainless Steel Multi-Use Canner. It has held up well and with the ability to handle up to 20 quarts of liquid it has a huge capacity for large or small jars.
You can shop all our recommended Canning Basics here.
Boil empty jars for 10 minutes.
These are the jars I like to use for jam because I like to give them as presents and these 4oz glass jars allow me to “spread the jam” to all our friends and family.
And how adorable are these ceramic produce containers? I use these all summer to display and refrigerate berries. Its just a cute step up from the cardboard ones!
Cut stems. Rinse, then soak figs in cool water for 20 minutes
Slice lemons, remove seeds
Cut a few figs in half
Combined sugar and water, heat to syrup
Add figs and lemon to syrup. Batch #1 I over heated, and my sugar started to crystallize.
Boil hard for 1 min. Reduce to simmer for 30 minutes.
BLEND & COOK DOWN
Using a blender/emulsifier blend figs to thick or thin consistency. Return to stove, cook additional 10 min to thicken.
JAR & PRESERVE FIGS
Using a hot water bath, boil jars for 10 min.
Do not over tighten rings. Air must be able to escape jar while boiling.
After boiling, wait for "pop" seal, tighten rings and let cool.
So far, I've canned two batched of preserves, gifted over 2 dozen figs and pick more everyday. I'm so happy our fig tree produced this year!
Do you see canning or jarring in your future? Share your thoughts in our comment section below!