Tuesday I got this message from my good friend Lori... "TONIGHT. We have figs! Let's make some jam." Though my parents are expert canners - putting up everything from pickles to salsa to jelly to stewed tomatoes to jam, and have done it my whole life - I never joined them. (Or not enough to have learned anything.) The only fig preserves I remember eating when I was younger were made by my paternal grandmother. I don't remember eating figs any other way, ever, except in a Fig Newton. So, I was very excited to take Lori up on her offer. And not only did we make it; we made it from figs that we had to pick first.
|Lori picking figs from the tree she and her husband planted almost twenty years ago, now two doors down (and two stories high) from her current house in South Austin.|
|Fresh figs waiting to have the tough stems removed and be washed.|
|Figs, water, sugar and lemon juice boiling.|
Fig ConfitFrom Lori Najvar, with guidance from a recipe for Fig Jam by Mrs. Frank Polasek in a Catholic Daughters cookbook put out by the Hallettsville chapter in the 1960s.
16 cups figs8 cups sugar or to taste1 pint water14 tablespoons lemon juice or to taste
Remove tough stems from the figs and rinse them. Place the figs in a large pot with the sugar, lemon juice, and water and bring to a boil. Boil until soft enough to mash. Use a potato masher to mash and crush the fruit. Be very careful about boiling hot, splattering fig juice when you're mashing. Continue boiling until the mixture reaches a jam-like consistency.. Total boiling time is at least 1 1/2 hours. Let cool and ladle into jars. Store in the refrigerator and use as soon as you like.
Other recipes in the Catholic Daughters cookbook (3 others) called for packets of strawberry or raspberry Jell-o, Sucaryl, and/or fresh peaches, too. Lori said her mother did use the Jell-o occasionally, which yielded a much redder, mock-strawberry jam out of the figs.
We started the boiling and then left the watching to Lori's husband, Glen, while we did a 45-minute hike on the greenbelt. This was not something that my older relatives would have done 50 years ago while they made jam, as they got plenty of exercise from life in general.
|Fig confit in a collection of jars and containers foraged from Lori's cabinets.|