Figgy Jewels For the Freezer!
No doubt! Italians love their figs. Ask any Italian for a fig wrapped memory, and you will get a story that probably goes back a generation or two. This Italian is no different in that respect.I grew up with a father who spoke of figs with emotion and intensity. He looked forward to their season, sought them relentlessly, and worshipped their very existence. Maybe that is why I named my fig tree “Tilly” after my father, Attilio. He would have loved my GINGER FIG PRESERVES and probably might have preferred them to the more common fig jam because of their spicy essence and also because the figs in this recipe retain their shape and are not mashed as in the jam.
Attilio planted the “seed” in my heart for these loveliest of fruits as he spoke of them so often and with such affection. His passion for them launched a life long love affair within me for figs of all types. Having my own tree was finally a wish fulfilled. Fig trees grow and bear fruit rapidly. They love the Southern temperatures and soil which is the reason you find so many growing in the Southern US. However, many in the Northern US grow them as well with some success. Many pot them and cover them when the Northern winds and biting temperatures become too severe. Watching a fig tree grow and produce is fun and takes little effort.
The effort comes with making wonderful dishes with your figs. GINGER FIG PRESERVES is a favorite for me as its uses go beyond the expected toast and biscuits or muffins. I love that their shape is partially retained, and you get a large piece of fig in your mouth to enjoy instead of just jam. They look like precious jewels in their presentation, as the large fig gems shimmer and shine.They are a beautiful accompaniment to pork dishes and even lamb or roasted chicken on their own or as a glaze or sauce. One of the loveliest uses for them, and my personal favorite, is with a savory cheese like a Rosemary Asiago or a Manchego. There is nothing better than a bite of salty, sharp cheese on a cracker along with a big juicy fig from my GINGER FIG PRESERVES – a perfect flavor combo – as well as an easy cocktail treat.
These preserves are so easy. I make them for the freezer which is so much faster and easier than canning. You can use any type of fig. I used Mission Figs for the demonstration. They are very sweet and the combination of the fresh and candied ginger gives them a spicy kick that rockets the flavor to heights you won’t believe. It’s rapture!
GINGER FIG PRESERVES
Makes: about 1 1/2 quarts
Prep: about 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour 15 minutes
3 lb. Fresh Figs
3 cups Sugar ( I like this level of sweetness with the spice. Use less sugar if you like.)
1 inch “knob” or chunk of fresh ginger, peeled and sliced thinly
Zest of one Fresh Lemon
Juice of one Fresh Lemon
A Second Fresh Lemon, sliced into rounds
1/4 Tsp. Salt
1 1/2 c. Candied or Crystallized Ginger – chopped into small pieces
Rinse your fresh figs and drain. Then cut off any woody or green stems.
Slice the figs in 1/2 lengthwise. If the figs are large, you can quarter them. I like large fig pieces in my fig preserves. You can make them smaller if you like.
Place them in a pot.
Peel and slice the fresh ginger.
Add the sugar, fresh ginger, lemon juice, lemon slices, and salt.
Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring a little and cover, reducing heat.
Simmer covered for 1 hour. Stir the mixture occasionally during this process.
After the hour, remove the cover, and simmer for about 15-20 minutes more. The mixture will condense and thicken.
Then add the candied ginger while the mixture is hot. Stir in.
Cool completely. You want to leave the lemon slices and ginger in the preserves, as they soften and “candy” during cooking and add wonderful dimension and flavor.
Fill your containers and freeze the ones you are not intending to use right away. (You can follow your own directions for canning if you prefer to can them.)
The GINGER FIG PRESERVES makes delicious crostatas. Also, they are wonderful with gelato, biscuits, pound cake, on French Toast, as well as with meats and cheese. The possibilities seem infinite. However, one thing is sure—they are soooo delicious. Try this recipe soon and let me know your favorite ways to enjoy them!
PARLA COME MANGI!
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Food Photos By Tommy Hanks Photography