Figs in Syrup


My apologies for the unannounced hiatus. This semester is kicking my hiney. My mantra these days is COME ON, DECEMBER. (Meanwhile, I also am in a constant headspin, all, “Where the hell did September go? Oh crap, LK’s birthday is in two weeks and we haven’t planned a party at all! Eep!”)

Of course, I’ve found a little bit of time to cook and think and queue up future blog posts, so stay with me! I’ve got lots to say.

I’ve been thinking a lot about sustainable food practices in the world and in my home. Part of it was inspired by seeing the documentary Dive! about a month ago (it’s about food waste and everyone should see it). I wondered while watching the movie whether the freegans in the movie practiced old-school methods of food preservation, like canning, drying, and so on. Obviously, previous generations knew that preserving food was a great way to reduce waste and cut down on food costs.

Around the same time, I went to visit my grandparents in East Texas and took them a jar of confituras salted caramel pear butter. Over breakfast on Labor Day, we sat at their table eating toast with pear butter and reminiscing about the pear trees at their old house and all the pear and apple butter they used to make (and we used to eat!). I also have fond memories of preserved figs in sweet syrup that I just loved as a kid. I would extract a whole fig out of the jar and smear it on a slice of buttered toast. It was sweet, but not cloyingly so, and the back of my palate tingles as I recall the experience.

Not too much later, figs went on sale for $3.99/lb at Whole Foods, which is the best price I’ve seen for figs all season. So I bought about three pounds or so and got to work, using this recipe.

I was very nervous about my first canning effort. I worried that if I didn’t submerge the jars completely in the boiling water, I’d end up poisoning people. None of my pots were deep enough, so I borrowed one from a friend. After processing, the lids started popping, a sound I came to receive with glee and a sense of accomplishment.

I’ve given out a few of the jars to friends (I made something like 10 or 12, I think), but have yet to try the figs myself. I am a little nervous about whether they are safe to eat, but I think I’m also worried that they won’t taste as good as I remember.

I definitely plan to put up more fruit this fall. I really want to do some spiced apples and/or pears. In the spring, I want to try my hand at fresh-picked berries, if the drought allows.

Do you can? If so, what are some of your favorite things to put up?

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1 Comment

  1. Jen

     /  October 7, 2011

    One of my girlfriends inducted me into canning about 4 years ago–every Wyoming woman worth her salt cans something. Part of it is just cultural that has hung on (the way we’ve always done it) and part of it is that Wyomingites are fiercely independent can-do-it types. So anyway, I learned to can and it was an instant love affair! I love the process, I love the look of pretty jars on my shelves, I love serving canned goods to my family. I can fruit jams/preserves of all stripes, applesauce, pear/applesauce (probably the favorite with the whole clan), peaches, pumpkin, salsa, spaghetti sauce, tomato soup, rhubarb syrup, carrots, potatoes, green beans. I really love doing my own tomato products, especially after all the news about how much BPA is used to line steel cans and how quickly tomatoes’ acidity breaks that down. (First-world problem to be sure). Our county extension agency here is very proactive in this respect and offers several canning courses each year on basics for beginners, advanced techniques (like beef stews, etc. which I am not brave enough or really even interested in trying) and processing tomatoes in a variety of ways, and more.

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