What’s Cooking?…Dried Fig Preserves

What’s Cooking?… Dried Fig Preserves

Isn’t it funny how things go in and out of fashion!

Years ago, many people had a fig tree in their back yards.  They seemed to survive on neglect along with Feijoa trees (also known as pineapple guava).  The fig trees were planted, or were the offspring of bird guano.  These often wound up coming out of cracks in concrete or right along fence lines, where, once they were established took hold very quickly.

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They could be relied upon to survive no matter what, but if they also found a good source of water, would provide a good crop of figs at the end of summer or beginning of autumn and sometimes at other unpredictable times.   This meant that they could provide a source of jam or preserves  or dried figs for winter.

Having said that, these days, figs have become a luxury fruit.  No longer, do people hold the fig tree close to their heart – or their back yard for that matter.  Here, figs can be quite expensive in the shops and only available for a short time.  Unfortunately they are delicate and do not transport well – hence the price.

So, if you are lucky enough like me to have one in close vicinity, in your garden, a neighbours or some neglected pathway, don’t overlook these ancient, wonderful and unique fruits.

This recipe is inspired by my son, who told me about some dried figs he ate once, where no sulphites were used for preservation.  These are a delicious and easy way to preserve figs.  They make a fantastic addition to a cheese platter, or home-made fruit cake, dipped in chocolate or just as a snack.  Maybe you will have an a glut of figs?  I hope you get a chance to make them one day.

This is how I do it.

Ingredients

1.5kg fresh whole figs
1 cup water
2 cups white vinegar
4 cups sugar
2 strips lemon rind
1″ square of fresh ginger

 

Method

Gently wash or wipe the figs.
Using a large saucepan, add the water, vinegar, sugar, lemon rind and ginger.
Gradually bring to the boil stirring occasionally until sugar is dissolved.  Boil for about 10 minutes, then add the whole figs.  Bring back up to a simmer, then allow the figs to simmer for 1 hour.  Turn off.  Cover and leave overnight.
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 In the morning, very gently, remove the figs with a slotted spoon.  Bring the mixture up to a simmer again.  Simmer for 10 minutes, then re-immerse the figs.  Simmer for 1 hour.  Turn off.  Cover and leave overnight.
The next day, decant the figs from the liquid and allow to drain.
Put the figs onto a drying tray, wooden board or drying rack.  Put into the sun to dry.  Alternatively they can be dried in a dehydrator or very low oven at less that 50 degrees Celsius.  Drying times will vary according to the weather.
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Now for the tasting!  Delish!
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Susan Stuklis 2016

 

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