The Great Fig Heist!
A few weeks ago it looked like we were heading for a bumper crop of figs. There were going to be plenty of figs for preserve making and for sharing with the wildlife in our yard. Alas, as I write this there are few figs to be found on our giant fig trees. They’ve been absconded with.
Fig Stealing Squirrels
My hopes of making fig preserves are dashed. Yes, you can find a few (very few) figs still ripening on the trees today but the vast majority of them have vanished into thin air. Actually, they have vanished into the stomachs of squirrels. It seems they didn’t get the memo that their allotment was at the tops of the fig trees and my allotment was closer to the ground. Can’t somebody teach those pesky critters to read?!?
Since I don’t have the copious quantities of figs to put up fig preserves for The Fairview, I am sharing one of my favorite recipes in case you find yourself in possession of lots of figs.
This recipe is one I’ve made for years. It comes from Jimi’s Great Aunt Josie, who set the standard for fig preserves.
Aunt Josie’s Fig Preserves
- 7 cups sugar (reduce if you want it less sweet)
- 1/4 c lemon juice
- 1 1/2 quarts hot water
- 2 quarts peeled firm ripe figs* (about 4 1/2 lbs)
- 2 lemons, thinly sliced and seeds removed
Add sugar and lemon juice to hot water. Cook until sugar dissolves. Add figs and cook rapidly 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking. Add sliced lemons and continue cooking rapidly until figs are clear, about 10 to 15 minutes. If syrup becomes too thick before figs are clear, add boiling water, 1/4 cup at a time.
Cover and let stand 12 to 24 hours in a cool place.
Pack into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Adjust caps.
Process half pints and pints 30 minutes at 180-185 degrees in hot water bath. Yield 10 half pints.
*If you don’t want to peel figs, the preserves won’t be as high quality but still tasty. If figs are left unpeeled, put in pot covered with water and boil 15-20 minutes and drained before adding to syrup. (Josie had bigger figs than I do so I boil my unpeeled, tiny, thin skinned figs for shorter amount of time.)
Have a Little Fig with Breakfast
Most years, we have had enough figs to serve with our breakfast at The Fairview, some for ourselves, and still have some left to share with our furry tree friends the squirrels. Besides having fig preserves to spread on our homemade bread, we have served almond coffee cake with figs, fig muffins, or just plain figs cut in half with some goat cheese alongside them.
However you like your figs, the best advice I have for you is to pick them off the tree early in the morning, before the squirrels wake up. Or come visit The Fairview this time next year and maybe we’ll have some then.