After reading about the aromatic and complex fig jam we created three years ago, scroll down for a description of the plain, chunky new version Costas and I made last week.
I used to not particularly like fig jam; seemed too sweet and one-dimensional. But we always have too many figs so, a few years ago, for the first time, I decided to create my own different version of this jam, adding equal amounts of figs and lemons –my favorite fruit– making a Fig and Lemon Jam. I thought it came out quite nice, but Costas wasn’t impressed. He loves sweets much more than I do, and he longed for the thick fig jam his mother used to make in Volos, Central Greece. Figs: Preserving Summer’s Bounty —the piece I did for the Atlantic in 2009 will tell you more about this luscious fruit!
Since we keep harvesting more and more figs every day, filling trays and storing them in the fridge, I had to make one more jam, and this time I thought I’d stay closer to the old-fashioned recipes, although I wasn’t at all sure I would love the result. Costas helped trimming and chopping the figs, a long and tedious work, as we were using close to eight pounds!When I asked if he would like cinnamon as an aromatic, knowing that he loves it, he surprised me by suggesting we add rose geranium. I would never have thought of it. Rose geranium –a ubiquitous potted aromatic in most Greek homes– is traditionally added to quince preserves; it did not occur to me to use it with figs but I liked the idea. To make a long story short the Tipsy and Fragrant Fig Jam came out better than anything I have tasted. Even I loved it, although, as I said, I never have liked fig jam before. This jam has quite a bit of honey, together with sugar and this helps to create its complex, multi-layered flavor. And some cooks on the island who tasted it immediately asked me for the recipe, something that rarely happens for traditional preparations like this seemingly ordinary fig jam…
THIS YEAR I mixed very ripe, and some half-dried figs in the same pot, about eight and a half pounds of all kinds –large and small, green and purple. We just trimmed the top and bottom and halved them, added about 2 cups Mavrodaphne of Patras and let them simmer for about 1 hour, then added 1 cup sugar and simmered for another 40 minutes, before I added 1/3 cup lemon, cooked a bit more, then transferred the juicy pieces into jars. It is a thick, and very chunky jam, and it is wonderful! Does not seem to lack the aromatic leaves… I always cook the figs with sweet wine because it adds extra depth of flavor. Mavrodaphne of Patras –the fortified, sweet, port-style red wine from the Peloponnese— is my first choice. It is one of the most reasonable-priced wines here and I use it in many savory and sweet dishes –from the basic tomato sauce to all kinds of braised and stewed meat and poultry. Cypriot Commandaria works also well and seems to be available all over the world but it is quite a wonderful and pricey dessert wine. You can use any low-end port, or even resort to a Manischewitz-type wine, because real port is expensive and I hate to waist it in a jam. The easiest solution could be to substitute any bodied red wine for the Mavrodaphne, increasing the amount of sugar or honey by 2-3 tablespoons. HERE are older and more detailed posts about FIGS and the very useful FIG LEAVES!
Recipe for the Tipsy and Fragrant Fig Jam.
AND the Fig and Lemon Jam.
ALSO my Fig Bread.
You may also like my Sweet & Sour Figs