October 11, 2009
More of the plenty from our hard-working fig tree. This recipe is poached from my sacred jamming text, Mes Confitures: the Jams and Jellies of Christine Ferber. If any of our dear readers have questions about the more technical aspects of making jam, please feel free to send me some questions. I am just a neophyte, but I am getting better, and I have some good resources.
2 1/2 pounds brown turkey figs (I think any variety would be great)
2 1/3 cups of agave nectar (or 3 1/4 cups of sugar)
3 1/2 oz floral honey (use local honey because it will help with your hay fever)
6 bay leaves
Juice of one Meyer lemon
1 1/2 teaspoon pectin (I use Pomona's Universal Pectin)
1 tablespoon sugar
Remove the stems from the figs and cut the fruit up into thin slices. In a glass or ceramic bowl combine the fig slices, honey, lemon juice, and bay leaves. Let the fruit macerate for 30 minutes.
Put the mixture into a preserving pan. We were lucky enough to get a beautiful Le Creuset dutch oven for our wedding; I like to use this for all my jams. Bring the mixture to a simmer. Then turn back into the original bowl, cover with a piece of parchment, and refrigerate overnight.
Next day, you will have a decision to make. My recipe does not call for any added pectin, which is a gelling agent extracted from citrus fruit. This is the stuff that makes jams more or less solid. I think that my decision to use agave nectar (lower glycemic index) compels me to add a bit of pectin as I am cooking the jam. Otherwise, my finished product ends up being too thin. I use Pomona's Universal Pectin, and tend to use less of the mixture than the company recommends. I add about one and a half teaspoons to this recipe, mixing it with one or two tablespoons of sugar before adding. Mixing with the sugar helps keep the pectin from staying chunky in your jam (that's unsightly). If you use sugar instead of agave, try to jam without the pectin.
Now, you can bring the jam to a boil and continue cooking on high heat for about 5 minutes, stirring gently. Jam must reach 221 degrees in order to set properly. Use a candy thermometer to check. Remove the bay leaves and return to a boil. Put the jam into sterilized jars immediately and seal.
This jam is delicious accompanying duck or pork. We served it with some duck liver and pork pate and Mary's Gone Crackers (gluten-free), and it was unbelievable.