I treat figs as a ‘special occasion’ fruit. They’re quite expensive to buy in the shops, especially if they’re out of season. Despite that, they’re quite easy to grow (given the tree time to mature), and a fig tree can be kept small if you don’t have a lot of space. They like to be grown in a pot, too.
Figs prefer warmer climates, but many varieties, such as ‘Brunswick’, ‘Chelsea’ or ‘Brown Turkey’, can be grown successfully in the UK, in a sheltered spot.
September to October is the time for harvesting your fig crop. If you have a big tree, you can end up with a few too many to eat fresh all in one go (it’s best not to over-do it on figs).
Fig jam recipe
Here’s a recipe for a lovely fig jam, courtesy of Mamounette in France, which will conserve your fig harvest so you can use it throughout the year. It’s good with liver pate and various cheeses.
Preparation time: One hour
Cooking time: 30 mins
- 2kg figs
- 1kg jam sugar
- One cinnamon stick
- 2 tsp cardamom seeds
- 1 tbsp of ginger
- Two cloves
- One split vanilla pod
- Juice of a lemon
- Peel and cut roughly the figs. Mix in a big bowl adding the sugar and all the spices.
- Toss several times to make a thick puree and let rest all night.
- Take a large, heavy-bottomed pan, put the prepared ingredients with the vanilla pod (sliced in two) and the lemon juice, and bring to the boil (remove the cloves and vanilla pod husks).
- Keep boiling and stir regularly for 30 minutes.
- In the meantime, sterilise your jars in boiling water and place them top down on a tea towel.
- When the jam is ready, fill the jars and put the lids straight on.
This recipe gives the fig jam a ‘Christmassy’ taste. Enjoy it with pate or cheese.
Images © Alan Jones