Jul 30, 2011

A Bounty of Figs

Thank you, author John Boyne for giving the term "flying fig" - and the lack of concern it measures - some historical context. A few years ago, Boyne included the phrase in a novel about the famous mutiny on the British ship, the Bounty, which occurred back in the late 1700s. I can now tell myself the phrase is historically accurate and not just a euphemism for another phrase that is far less polite.

What does any of that have to do with real figs? Why nothing, of course. But I did have a bounty of them drop into my lap this week.

Despite my canning ambiguity this year, I had been mulling over if there was any way I could snag some fresh figs locally (they're a rare bird around here) and by chance overheard a friend talking about a tree loaded with figs, ripe for the plucking. As luck would have it, the tree's owner doesn't give a fig about getting out in this heat and picking them, so my friend/source is welcome to them. And I'm welcome to what he picks as long as I give him back some preserves, including a jar or two as recompense to the tree's owner. It's a sweet deal for everyone.

Yesterday morning I started with this - about 3 quarts of figs, washed and stemmed.

It's a miracle there were any left after I started nibbling on them.
 After a few hours of cooking down (meanwhile I scrubbed and sanitized a dozen jars) and a few minutes of filling, sealing and a quick dip in a hot water bath, I wound up with this pretty array of jars, plus one in the fridge because I misjudged the number of jars needed:

Fig preserves; they're like sunshine in a jar.

But the nice neat stack of jars comes at a price.  This is the kitchen after the preserves finished their water bath.  Canning is not difficult, but it does take time and it is messy.  Very, very messy.

How many kettles does it take to can?  All of them.
Is it worth it?  Oh yes.  I'm not much of a jam/jelly/preserve fan, but I am looking forward to using these preserves in some upcoming cakes and cookies.  And I'm hopeful I might get another batch or two of figs.   Maybe in a year or two my fig tree will reward me with some figs.  Assuming it survives transplant shock, poor baby.

Happy preserving,