Fig preserves, such as jam or jelly, made from the fleshy and plump fruit, complement more than just toast or biscuits. They also work well on turkey and chicken sandwiches with a touch of aioli or inside the pastry on top of a wheel of baked brie. Because fresh figs only show up in stores in summer and autumn, but dried figs are available year round, make fig preserves from dried figs instead of fresh with just a few modifications to your favorite recipes.
About Dried Figs
Even when dried, figs should be fairly tender and soft to the touch. Available year round, dried figs last several months when stored in a cool, dark place. Buying in bulk saves money and insures that you'll have the delicious fruit on hand for preserves and other favorite recipes when needed. When drying figs at home, boil briefly first and remove the peel before dehydrating.
Plumping the Figs
Before making the preserves, rehydrate the dried figs to plump them for the jam. Small figs will plump uncut. Halve or quarter large figs and pieces for best results. Add enough water, juice, liqueur or some combination of the three to cover the figs in a shallow pan. Simmer over medium heat until the liquid thickens and bubbles and the figs plump. Once they start to burst, remove from heat immediately.
Preparation for Preserves
Once the dried figs are plump and rehydrated, drain them in a colander, trim any remaining stems from the figs and chop them into small pieces. Measure the chopped rehydrated figs as fresh figs to use in your favorite jam and jelly recipes. Stir them into a mixture of water, citrus juice, seasonings, and pectin, if desired. Bring to a boil and simmer until thickened. Add preserves to jars and store refrigerated for 2 or 3 days or can the preserves for longer storage.
If you're planning to can the fig preserves made from dried figs, use lemon juice or add citric acid to the mixture. The additional acid helps preserve the jam or jelly. Pour your jam or jelly mixture into sterilized pint-size jars while hot, leaving 1/4 inch of space at the top of the jar. Process in a hot water canning bath for 15 to 20 minutes. Store canned fig preserves up to 2 years at room temperature.
Andrea Lott Haney writes articles and training materials for food industry publications. Having studied foodservice sanitation, nutrition and menu planning at Purdue University, Lott Haney has more than 10 years of experience as a catering and event planner for luxury hotels and currently tours the Midwest as a corporate customer service trainer and consultant.