It’s here! It’s here at last! Fig Season is officially underway. Let the Figapalooza begin!
This week we’ll have 2 posts: The first will be Fig Jam and Crostata With Fig Jam. The second will be Fig Crostata using sliced figs.
I herald the coming of the figs for this year with the simple preparations of Fig Jam and Crostata With Fig Jam! It doesn’t get easier than this – or more delicious. Your morning toast is about to become much more appealing. Follow my lead!
No one could be happier about the arrival of fig season than I. I think it’s in the genes. My father, Attilio, loved fresh figs and spoke of them with reverence. Whatever it is, I must have caught it, because I revel in the arrival of the first figs every year. My family has learned to love them although there isn’t much choice in the matter when figs appear at every meal in every possible way during the season. There is no way out of this one if you want to eat around here.
I am especially happy this fig season as I have recently planted my own fig tree which I call “Tilly” after my Dad. Tilly is young, and I really had no expectation for fruit for this year. My California friend and garden mentor, Mike Celeste, ( not related to the Celeste Fig) insisted that I would indeed have figs. I was skeptical. Mike won this one, as my little tree is producing! Although it won’t be a bumper crop, I am grateful for each precious juicy one. We have already harvested a few and they are sweet and delicious beyond my wildest dreams. There is nothing like picking a fig from your very own tree and biting into that sweet flesh right there on the spot. Sigh…
Fig Jam: Making this will be so easy you just won’t be able to resist making some immediately. It takes very few ingredients and not so much time. Let the figs do all the work. No skinning, not much prep. The skins are healthy for you, are not tough, and are part of the charm of figs. You can do almost anything with figs without peeling them. You can use any fig variety as long as they are ripe and sweet. The sweetest are the Mission Figs. They are dark, juicy, soft, and very easy to work with. These are the figs I use in the demonstration. The color of your fig jam will be determined by the color of your figs. I do not preserve my jam, so the fig recipe you’ll see here must be refrigerated or frozen for longer term storage. I like this as I don’t have to fool around with wax and boiling jars etc.
Crostata?? Pie – just pie. A simple, not so typical pie – but pie all the same.
The perfect dessert using fig jam: I love Crostata With Fig Jam. It is easy to make and the reward is huge! The fact that it is a “good looker” doesn’t hurt either. Traditionally the Crostata is made as a small free form jam tart – very rustic in its imperfect appearance. You’ll find fancier ones – some with lattice tops etc., but the one we pursue here is the one you might find in a small cucina in Italy made by a nonna. It is usually made with a pie crust or pastry dough. If you’d like to use your favorite crust – have at it! My mother, Loretta, made the best crust I know of, and I use it often. Now don’t run away if you feel you are not up to the task. To make this even easier, especially for those who are “crust-a-phobic”, today’s recipe uses frozen puff pastry. Uh-huh! It’s getting a little more interesting, isn’t it?
Just talking about figs, jam, and Crostata makes me very hungry…
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Makes: about 2 pints
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 65-70 minutes
3 lb. ripe fresh figs, washed, stems removed
3 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. Fresh Lemon Juice
2 tsp. Lemon Zest
1/2 Tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 Tsp. Salt
Chop your figs into small pieces. Remember to leave the skins on.
Place the figs in a pot.
Add the sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, cinnamon, and salt.
Combine these ingredients and begin mashing them using a potato masher or a fork. You’ll find they mash easily especially if they are very soft and ripe.(You can also use the blender.) Leaving little chunks is nice to give the jam more interest.
Turn on your heat to medium high and bring to a a strong simmer. Stir occasionally.
Then cover the pot and turn the heat down so that the fig mixture simmers steadily for 1 hour.
Give the mixture an occasional stir and make sure it does not burn or scorch.This is especially important in the last 1/2 hour.
You’ll see it begin to thicken.
After an hour, remove the cover, and cook for another 5-10 minutes or until the jam is thick.
You are finished!
Cool completely – you’ll see it continues to thicken as it cools.
Fill your containers and freeze the ones you want to use later.
If making crostata – I suggest you make the jam ahead. Then your crostata will only take 1/2 hour to make.
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CROSTATA WITH FIG JAM
Makes: 1 Crostata
Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 20-25 minutes
1 Sheet Frozen Puff Pastry – thawed
1 Cup Fig Jam made from the above recipe – can make this ahead
A couple of Tablespoons Toasted Sliced Almonds
If you want to use your favorite pie or pastry crust – this is fine and more traditional.
If using the Puff Pastry – roll out 1 sheet to about 12-14 inches – roll it a little wider also.
You can put it on your baking sheet now and assemble there for more ease or transfer it after you put it together with a large spatula.
Make sure your jam is completely cool if you just made it, and pour it in the center of the dough.
Take a knife or back of a spoon and spread it out to make a nice circular center of about 8 inches inches .
Cut off the corners of the dough and use for something else. This will give the dough a more rounded appearance.
Fold the sides over about an inch or 2 leaving a nice wide center.
Pierce the bottom of the jam area in a few places with a fork so it will not puff up and remain that way after cooking.
Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until edges are golden.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle the toasted almonds over the top.
Serve: It’s really best warm with vanilla ice cream or whipped cream. A small glass of Limoncello wouldn’t hurt.
This Crostata With Fig Jam is just about the most comforting of desserts in my book. It hits all the right notes from warm gooey sweetness to a toasty crunch and then there’s the figs…
PARLA COME MANGI!
Also: See the RECIPE OF THE MONTH on
Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography