Fig Jam: Tipsy and Fragrant

After reading the detailed recipe for 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 have found that soft, refrigerated figs that ceased to look attractive make a better jam. For that reason I feel that even the soft, dried California figs would work here instead of the fresh fruit, although I have not tried them yet…

MAKES ABOUT 4 QUARTS (8 one-pint jars)

3 1/2 pounds (1.750 lt.) figs, any kind, purple or green –preferably a mixture of soft and firm fruits

Fig Jam 2 bowl & figs1 S

1 cup sweet red wine, preferably Mavrodaphne of Patras (see Note for substitutions)

1/2 cup water, or more, as needed

2 cups sugar

2/3 cup honey

1/2 cup lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon citric acid (optional, if your lemons are mild, like mine)

2 sprigs Rose geranium (you can substitute cinnamon, or any sweet-musky spice you like)

RINSE and drain the fruits. Cut and discard the stem and the end of each fig, then quarter the fruits and transfer to a pot. Add the wine and water and bring slowly to a boil.

Fig Jam 2 pot & Wine S

Add the sugar and honey, stir and cook for about 20 minutes, or until the figs are tender. If too dry, add a little more water. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the rose geranium or any other aromatic you choose, and cook, stirring for 5 more minutes, then pour in the lemon and add the citric acid, if you using it.

Cook, stirring, for another 5-10 minutes. Be careful because the jam splatters; wearing rubber gloves is a good idea.

By now the jam must be syrupy; place a good drop on a cold plate. Let cool and push with your finger. If it wrinkles, the jam is done. If it is still watery, cook a bit more, stirring the whole time.

Fig Jam 2 bowl S

Pour the jam into hot, sterilized jars, filling almost to the top, cover immediately and let cool; the jars will seal.


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… 


Cypriot Commandaria works also well and seems to be available all over the world but this 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 and Commandaria are expensive and I hate to waist them in a jam. The easiest solution could be to substitute any bodied red wine for the Mavrodaphne, increasing the amount of honey by 2-3 tablespoons.



8 thoughts on “Fig Jam: Tipsy and Fragrant

  1. For shelf-stable, safe jam, the U.S. FDA recommends that the jars should be submerged in a water bath after the jars are filled, and boiled for ten minutes. I used to fill my jars with hot jam and flip them over to sterilize the inside of the lid, then turn them back up, then listen for the “ping” when the jars would vacuum seal. I considered the sealed jars safe and shelf stable at that point. A few years ago, I learned that this method, called “open kettle” canning is considered safe only for refrigerated storage. Also, if you water-bath the jars, they don’t need to be sterilized in advance, just washed in a dishwasher or in hot water with detergent.

    1. Thanks for your comment. As this is not a site with advice for professionals, I am just writing what small-scale, exquisite jam and marmalade makers from the US have taught me to do. My jars remain sealed and in perfect condition, sealed the way i describe, for years… I never aspired to give FDA-approved directions for commercial production.

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