Monday, June 30, 2008

Making Jam

When we bought our house last year, we inherited some very lovely flowers/herbs/trees, including well-established lavender and rosemary, hydrangeas, two rosebushes and two fig trees. Of course we also inherited some really awful things like miles and miles of overgrown monkey grass and trees that had had all of their lower limbs lopped off by what I can only assume was an overzealous tree trimmer.

The fig trees really excited me. When I was a child a set of my great-grandparents had a huge vegetable garden, berry bushes and fig trees. I remember eating fresh figs at their house and the milky liquid that came out of the top of the figs when you pulled them off of the branch. Last year we were still feeling our way around the new house and working on removing all that monkey grass so I didn’t have the energy to keep all the birds away from the figs so we didn’t have any to speak of. This year I’ve tried to do a little bit better job at shooing the grackles and robins and English sparrows away from the trees. I’ve really been watching them, waiting for the figs to be ripe enough to pick. Saturday morning I went out and was able to get several ripe pounds of figs. I’m still not sure what variety they are, I think they might be Celestial but I’m not 100% sure. They don’t turn brown or purple when they’re ripe, their green skin just lightens up. Knowing that there was no way Doug and I would eat that many figs I wanted to make jam out of them.

Again, I grew up with my grandmother and my great-grandparents canning and making jellies and jams so I had a vague idea of what I needed to do. I Googled ‘making fig jam’ and got a few hits. Basically I needed figs, Sure-Jell, sugar, lemon juice, glass canning jars, a few large pots and some patience. It seemed as though it took forever to peel and cut up all the figs but I finally got them all chopped and threw them into a pot with the Sure-Jell, a whole lotta sugar, lemon juice, a little lemon zest and some water and boiled it for a few minutes and then let it cook for a little longer on medium heat. I sterilized the glass jars in the dishwasher and nearly boiled the lids and tops in hot water for 5 minutes.

After the jam cooled down a little bit and poured it into the jars. I got four 8 ounce jars filled with the amount of figs I had. In two of the jars I put some rosemary from my garden in with the jam, I thought that might be tasty served on top of warm brie with crackers. I snuck a little taste as I was putting it in the jars and it seemed to taste pretty good, so my fingers are crossed. After the jars were filled they got a boiling water bath for about 10 minutes. It was a pleasant experiment and I managed not to maim myself in the process (which is usually not the case). I’m keeping two jars for myself (one of each) and giving the other two to my mother. If I can keep the birds away from the trees I should have more ripe figs to pick in the next few weeks and I’ll probably make more jam. This time I might try using honey to sweeten it instead of sugar any maybe add walnuts to a batch.

1 comment:

bridgmanpottery said...

wow, I'm impressed! I usually dry my figs- I don't have much of a sweet tooth, though. I have a huge brown turkey tree that produces loads and loads, but it's nowhere near ready yet. End of the month, probably.