Dirt to Table Experience: Fig and Vanilla Jam

PUBLISHED ON: 07.20.2012
My fig tree is loaded down with ripe figs. The feeling when I am pulling the branches down low to pull the fruit is a delightful one.  I am not even cussing at the birds who steal their fair share of the fruit. The small figs are perfectly ripe and their brown skins are soft to the touch. This season included a good amount of rainfall (thanks tropical storm Debby) and with that good early summer rainfall, our fig tree did not disappoint.
This year we picked  about 15 -20 lbs of ripe figs off our single tree.
What the heck do you do with pounds and pounds of fresh figs that have a shelf life of almost zero once picked from the tree?  Of course silly, you make jam!

This is a densely fruited jam that can be served with sweet or savory food, or with cheese and cold ham sandwiches. The hint of vanilla is a really nice addition.  Did I mention how easy this jam was to make?

Fig and Vanilla Jam
Makes about 2-1/2 lbs. or 3 medium jars

1-1/2 lbs. (675g) ripe figs with soft skins, trimmed and cut into quarters
Zest and juice of 1 organic lemon, washed
1 small cooking apple, peeled, cored, and coarsely chopped
1 vanilla bean, sliced lengthwise
3-1/2 cups granulated sugar
1.  Put the figs in a preserving pan or a large heavy-bottomed saucepan with lemon zest and juice, chopped apple, and vanilla pod.  Cook over low heat for about 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the figs have softened and broken down.
2.  Add the sugar and cook over low heat, stirring continuously, until the sugar has all dissolved.  Then bring to a boil and cook at a rolling boil, stirring occasionally, for about 15-20 minutes or until it reaches the setting point.  Skim away any residue as it cooks.  Remove the pan from the heat while you test for a set ( temp at 220 F.)
3. Carefully remove the vanilla bean, then ladle into warm sterilized mason jars, leaving 1/4-inch (5mm) headspace.  Process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes then cover, seal with two-part top, and label.  Store in a cool, dark place, and refrigerate after opening.

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