Finely chopped orange and lemon zest add a bright note to these sweet preserves. The recipe is simple, as it requires no pectin and no peeling of the fruit. Stir the preserves into yogurt, use them as a filling for a crostata (tart), or ~ for a savory twist ~ brush over pork or chicken for grilling. (Copyright 2013 Domenica Marchetti)
- 2 pounds ripe figs, washed (see NOTES)
- 2 cups sugar
- Freshly squeezed juice and finely minced zest of 1 small orange
- Freshly squeezed juice and finely minced zest of 1 lemon
Cut the tops of the stems off the figs and quarter them lengthwise. Place them in a heavy-bottomed non-reactive saucepan or Dutch oven. Add the sugar, then pour the orange and lemon juice over figs. Sprinkle the zest on top. Gently mix everything together with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon and let the figs macerate for 30 minutes or up to several hours.
Have ready 3 half-pint sterilized jars and their rings and lids. Place 2 or 3 small bowls or plates in the freezer (you will use these to test the jelling point of the preserves).
Set the pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; reduce the heat to medium and cook at a lively simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened and turned a couple of shades darker. Remove one of the small bowls or plates from the freezer and spoon a small amount of jam onto it. Return the plate to the freezer for 2 minutes. To test if the preserves are done, nudge the mound gently with your finger; it should wrinkle slightly and feel thick. Tilt the plate. The preserves should move sluggishly; if the mixture seems runny, it is not quite ready and you should continue to cook it for another couple of minutes before testing once more. (If you're testing with a candy thermometer, it should read 220 degrees F.)
Ladle the hot preserves into the sterilized jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Wipe the rims clean if necessary with a clean, damp cloth, and screw the lids on the jars. Process the jars in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Remove the jars and set them upright on a clean kitchen towel. Within a couple of minutes you should hear the jar lids "ping" signifying that they have sealed properly (see NOTES). Let the jars cool to room temperature before storing in a cool, dark place. They will keep for up to a year.
My friend Cathy recommends prepping the figs by putting them in a bowl and pouring boiling water over them. Let them sit for 10 minutes; drain and proceed with the recipe. Otherwise, carefully but thoroughly wash them.
If a jar has failed to seal properly, store it in the refrigerator and use within a month.