The longest days of the summer are waning. Pomegranates are turning red in private gardens.
And figs are sprouting wherever they dare, which is anywhere. I love the fig tree; its hand-shaped leaves with their aroma of vanilla and cinnamon, its luscious fruit with a red heart. How I have loved standing under wild fig trees in Israel, harvesting the small, sweet fruit. Figs grow and thrive where I live, and the market offers figs of splendor.
The most delicious way to eat fresh figs is simply to hold one plump, moist fig in your hand and bite into it. But the yearning to preserve a little of that flavor overcame me. Here’s an unusual fig jam recipe that includes red wine, herbs and a little balsamic vinegar. The mildly acidic flavors brighten up what is often a rather bland preserve, and the spices give it a subtle herbal undertone. The jam mellows over time, tasting even more delicious a couple of days later.
Spiced fig jam with red winePrint
- 3 lbs fresh figs
- 1 ¼ cups white sugar
- 1 cup dark honey
- ½ cup dry red wine
- 1 2 inch sprig of fresh rosemary (substitute ¼ teaspoon fresh or dried thyme if you don’t have rosemary)
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- 1 medium bay leaf
- A good splash of balsamic vinegar
- Rinse the figs and slice the stems off. Cut into halves if figs are small, into quarters if large. Put them into a large saucepan or a bowl.
- Mix the remaining ingredients and pour over the figs. Stir gently and cover. Leave the figs alone at room temperature for 2 hours, stirring twice during that time. Remove the rosemary sprig.
- Turn the heat to high and boil the considerably softened and juicy fig mixture. Stir often, keeping a sharp eye out for when the jam starts to thicken. Don’t reduce the heat, just keep stirring to prevent scorching. Test the jam on a cold plate; if a drop holds its shape, it’s ready. The whole thing should take no more than 20 minutes and maybe only 15.
- Remove the bay leaf and if you like, purée the jam before storing. I use a stick blender and purée it right there in its pan, while its still somewhat hot (with great care to keep away from splashes).
- You don’t have to sterilize the jars for this recipe. I don’t have much pantry space, so I keep the few preserves I make in the fridge. It keeps for three months. Follow standard boiling water-bath procedure if you wish to store the jam at room temperature for any length of time.
- I serve teaspoons of this jam with local white cheeses. A nice mature Brie also pairs deliciously with it. And a glass of chilled Chardonnay with them never did anyone any harm.