SLOW-COOKED FIG & LEMON JAM

Slow-Cooked Fig & Lemon Jam

I make this jam every year, first from our own early season figs (in February), and then using Dad's later in the season. The slow-cooking of the figs results in a sticky rustic jam that reminds me of days past. It does take about 24 hours from start to finish but most of this time is unattended. This is true Slow Food cooking.

Ingredients

  • 1.5 kg figs cut into 1 cm cubes
  • 1 whole lemon chopped into 5mm cubes
  • 2 cups unrefined raw sugar preferably organic

Instructions

  • Chop the figs and lemon. I keep it quite rough and rustic but if you want a smoother jam then chop into smaller cubes. Mix the fruit with the sugar in the ceramic bowl of a slow cooker (or in a large ceramic/ glass bowl), cover and leave overnight to get nice and syrupy.
  • In the morning turn on the slow cooker and leave to cook for approx. 6-8 hours on HIGH, or as long as it takes for the figs and sugar to cook down into a sticky jam. (It took about 6 hours on HIGH in my hot-running Zip slow cooker. I suspect my old Sunbeam cooker would have been more like 8+ hours on HIGH.) Stir very occasionally to check the consistency. The less lifting of the lid when using a slow-cooker the better.
  • When ready to bottle, sterilise jars and lids with boiling water for 1 minute. Air dry then spoon in the hot jam. Secure the lids and cool. Name and date the jars and store in your pantry for up to one year (if it lasts that long!)

Notes

*Alternatively if you don't have a slow cooker, put the fig mixture into a large heavy-based saucepan and simmer on the lowest heat on your stove top. Or if you are lucky cook slowly on a wood-fired kitchen range until thick and sticky.

My Dad still lives on the same property I grew up on. His steep section overlooks the city of Nelson and out across the beautiful Tasman Bay. My Dad and his wife have spent years landscaping the property and planting an orchard of fruit and nut trees. Though my Dad trained as a Doctor I secretly think he always wanted to be a carpenter. He has built two beautiful houses and is very resourceful. He has terraced his steep section with tyre walls, each wall dug entirely by hand.

My Dad has always been very environmentally conscious and I suppose that has rubbed off onto me. Growing up we recycled everything we could. There were separate boxes for paper, tin, and glass under our kitchen sink and a small basket for plastic. We had very little waste as my Dad was (and still is) pedantic about packaging, buying most of our food from bulk food stores and always taking his own bags. Now days, this is quite normal to separate out the rubbish, but back then none of my friends families recycled. As a teen I recall feeling a little embarrassed, now I am grateful for what my Dad taught me. I hope our children feel the same way about us when they grown up.

When Dad has an abundance of fruit he gives us a call and we head up the road to help pick the excess. At the moment it is figs and feijoas dripping from the trees. Their seven large fig trees are completely laden with fruit and there are only so many fresh figs one can eat at a time. Although my children may beg to differ here, as you can see from the photos, they sat and gorged themselves while we picked the fruit.

Slow-cooked Fig & Lemon Jam | Homegrown Kitchen by Nicola Galloway

Slow-cooked Fig & Lemon Jam | Homegrown Kitchen by Nicola Galloway

Slow-cooked Fig & Lemon Jam | Homegrown Kitchen by Nicola Galloway

Slow-cooked Fig & Lemon Jam | Homegrown Kitchen by Nicola Galloway

Once we’ve had our fill of fresh figs I cook the rest up to make a rustic fig & lemon jam. The original idea came from George the Macedonian at the Nelson Market. Dear sweet George sells a selection of citrus fruits, apples, plums, figs and some exotic fruits such as sapote, all grown on his organic orchard in the Motueka Valley. Some years ago I was at his stall when George pushed a jar of brown looking jam into my palm and said ‘take it home and enjoy’. Admittedly, I am not the biggest jam fan, much preferring savory toppings on my bread. But never one to turn down a gift of food I took the brown almost black jar of sticky sweetness home.

Once home, I tried the jam on bread matched with a sharp sheep cheese and… oh boy… did I swoon. Eyes rolling back into my head, mmm mmm. The figs are cooked down into a sweet, sticky, caramelised burst of flavour, gently mellowed with the lemon. The jar didn’t last long, and with our own homegrown figs ready to go I grilled (politely, as he is my elder) George for the recipe. Through his thick accent I managed to decipher a basic recipe; no measurement, just directions. Mix figs and lemon with organic sugar, leave overnight. Then long slow cooking on the kitchen range, stirring occasionally until thick. That was all I needed, this is the kind of recipe I love. The spoken recipe, how we would have passed our knowledge before books and email and the internet…

As we don’t have a wood-fired kitchen range (oh I wish), for my first attempt I made this on my gas stove top over a very low heat. I stirred occasionally, leaving to cook away for hours. It came out just like Georges, sweet, sticky and rich. However, I had to be there checking it every now and again, and couldn’t leave the house (not a huge biggie as I spend a lot of time at home or in the garden). This year when I was preparing my figs I had a *light bulb moment* to use my trusted slow-cooker. Now I leave the jam to cook away slowly all day and then bottle it in the evening. So easy.

Slow-cooked Fig & Lemon Jam | Homegrown Kitchen by Nicola Galloway

Slow-cooked Fig & Lemon Jam | Homegrown Kitchen by Nicola Galloway

 Slow-cooked Fig & Lemon Jam | Homegrown Kitchen by Nicola Galloway

Slow-cooked Fig & Lemon Jam | Homegrown Kitchen by Nicola Galloway

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  1. I love your story of your dad Nicola! By the sounds of it we grew up in very similar households 🙂 Thanks once again for sharing your beautiful tart over on my blog, everyone is raving about it! xx

    1. Thanks Emm, it was fun. Look forward to you sharing a recipe on homegrown kitchen later in the year x

  2. What a wonderful legacy from your Dad, and which you are clearly passing on to your children. And what an amazing garden your Dad has obviously created – sounds like a real labour of love. This jam sounds wonderful Nicola – never would have thought of making it in the slow-cooker. Definitely going to try this next year when figs come round again (our tree is pretty much depleted now – I picked the last few figs this afternoon). I’m sure hoping that George will still have some more of those figs at the market tomorrow though, as I really want to try your tart.

    1. Thanks Sue, I think George has the figs for another week, unless the birds ate them. The tart is gorgeous 🙂

  3. Sorry be so useless at cooking!!!! Do I peel the figs or leave the skins on?? Got some from George’s stall this morning so keen to give this a go. Thank you.

    1. HI Donna, no you leave the skins on they help set the conserve.

  4. ohh I wish I lived closer to Nelson and could get some of those amazing looking figs. Our figs are long gone – but I will be sure to try this one out next year. Thanks for the inspiration as always. Sam

    1. I have found out they are called a Macedonian Fig. They are a late season fig variety. Thanks Sam

  5. This sounds delicious and I’m very tempted by your fig tart on Emma’s blog. I have a tree full of tiny figs which are about ripe for picking this week. Really inspiring posts to get me thinking about what I’ll do with our first ever crop.

    1. Thanks Julie, I hope your figs ripen in time. I find if they haven’t ripened by now they may not at all but you may live in a warmer plot than we do. Good luck 🙂

  6. I’m swooning over the 7 fig trees, I have one small tree that gives just a taster of things to come in the future. Luckily this year a neighbour gave me a big bag full but I was too much of a pig to turn them into a jam. I did manage a feijoa relish though.

    1. I know, they have so many figs they are running out of ideas for them. Don’t worry your tree will start producing enough to make some jam from it.

  7. Hello there, stopping by to say how I just found your blog and love it… we share a similar philosophy. Do hope to call in again soon.

  8. Trish Gaskins says:

    Hi, I grew up with two wonderful fig trees so now in my old age have five different varieties. They are coming off so fast that I’ve dried some in the oven (which are great) but need babysitting all day. Also, canned 5 pints. Wanted to crockpot them (so they will cook themselves) but husband is prediabetic so I can’t use sugar. Would Stevia or Agave work? Thanks.

    1. Hi Trish, I haven’t tried this with stevia or agave. The sugar creates the stickiness of the conserve so don’t think stevia would work. Although you could try cooking the figs down in the crop pot and then sweeten once they are nice and syrupy. It would be different but still quite nice but would need to be frozen without the sugar it won’t keep well. I have used coconut sugar successfully if you are ok to use this sugar.

  9. Love the sound of your fig recipes just been given some &I want to try Lemon Fig jamDo you peel the lemon

    1. Hi Fay, you can get away without the lemon but it really does add to the flavour of this jam. Happy preserving!

  10. This jam is the best. I used to buy a lemon fig jam which I loved, but this is by far so much better. I just went out and picked another batch of figs and I’m making more today. I live on Madeira Island and the trees are bursting with figs.

    1. Hi TC, this is so wonderful to hear. We are at the other end of the seasons with spring only just beginning. I am looking forward to all the summer goodness starting in a few months. Enjoy!
      Nicola

  11. I have a fig tree on the property I rent that is at least 60 years old, HUGE, and this year (2018) it has been extremely prolific. I am off sugar, of any kind, as it makes my heart pound and become arythmic, so I make a little bit of jam for myself, but mostly for friends. Figs are sweet, the pectin that doesn’t need sugar should be fine, but am wondering if you know what will happen, or if any of your audience has tried it without sweetener? Thanks for a well thought out site.

    1. Hi Mary, I haven’t tried this recipe without sugar, it is a low sugar conserve and I find the sugar helps to give it a lovely ‘jammy’ texture. You could try leaving out the sugar and adding 1-2 finely chopped pears for sweetness and texture. I imagine it will take longer to cook down without the sugar but I think it would still be lovely and sweet with the pear. Also keep in mind without the sugar the jam won’t keep so well so I would suggest freezing into smaller containers and keeping in the fridge once thawed.
      Enjoy 🙂

  12. I wonder if I could use a small orange instead of the lemon…?

    1. Hello, you could try using a small orange. I haven’t tried this myself and would change the flavour somewhat. Also, the lemon helps with thickening the jam so you may need to cook a little longer to get the right consistency.
      Enjoy!
      Nicola

  13. Hi

    I have an over abundance of figs at the moment and I’d like to make this I was wondering what you suggest as unrefined sugar. In these uncertain times I can’t just pop down to our local whole foods stores.

    Thanks and I look forward to making this jam.

    1. Hi Frith, just use any sugar or sweetener you have on hand. I find rapadura or muscovado compliment the figs well but any sugar is fine.
      All the best
      Nicola

  14. Would this work with frozen figs? We have heaps of figs but I don’t have time to make it at the moment. Would you cut them up before freezing or freeze them while? Thank you!

    1. Sorry that should say freeze them whole.

    2. Hi Nicky, I can’t see why not but I haven’t tried this myself. I would think it would be best to chop them first and maybe even mix the chopped figs with the sugar as per the recipe, but again as I haven’t tried this I can’t be 100% sure. You could try both, whole and chopped, and see which one works the best.
      All the best
      Nicola

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