Figs are one of the most delicate fruits out there; they don’t keep or travel well, and they are very sensitive to weather conditions. They sometimes split open even before they can be harvested, and if you so much as touch a ripe fig you can bruise it, so they only make the briefest appearance in markets. I like this thick garnet colored jam because it will let you keep savoring the figs long after they’ve disappeared from the produce section. Spoon some on a nice blue or sharp cheddar cheese and you’ll be hooked. If you sterilize the jars you’d have an ideal holiday food gift.
There are a few different varieties of figs, and you can use any one of them for this jam. I used black Mission figs, but you might find green, brown, or yellow ones as well. These black figs surprised me with their intense berry flavor and aroma, and of course the stunning deep color of the jam, which is a result of the purple skin, is a bonus.
I made this with roasted cardamom pods for a background flavor that hints at the fig’s Middle Eastern roots. Brown sugar, brandy, and a dash of pomegranate molasses are the only other elements.
- 1 lb figs
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 12 cardamom pods
- juice of 1 lemon
- 1/4 cup brandy
- 2 Tbsp pomegranate molasses (optional)
- Crush the cardamom pods lightly so they crack and the seeds are exposed. I do this with gentle pressure from the side of a rolling pin. Don't lose any of the precious seeds! Add them to a medium sized (3 qt) saucepan or small stockpot.
- Toast the seeds over medium heat for just a couple of minutes until you can smell their aroma.
- Rinse the figs and cut off the stems. Chop them coarsely and them to the pot. Add the lemon juice, sugar, brandy and molasses (if using). Stir to mix well and set aside for about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Bring the mixture up to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for about 35 to 40 minutes until thickened and glossy. Pay special attention to the jam during the second half of the cooking time to make sure it doesn't stick or scorch.
- You can leave the jam a little chunky, or use an immersion blender to blend it out at the end of cooking. Be careful not to splatter yourself with the hot jam.
- Let cool and then put in a jar with a lid. Store in the refrigerator and eat within the month.
I was all set to say that this isn’t a jam for your morning toast, but as soon as I took my first taste I realized that I was wrong. It would be amazing with toast, biscuits, or bagels. I will mostly use it as a savory ingredient, fig jams are great as a part of a cheese or charcuterie platter, or on sandwiches, etc. But as it turns out, this is a very versatile jam.