From this …
to this … (with a few hiccups along the way)
When we bought our property, we planted one or two of every fruiting tree we could think of with a view to living the good life on the produce but, alas, the only ones reaping the rewards are birds. Unless we net a tree, we don’t get any fruit and, even if the tree is netted, the birds will still somehow get into the net, eat the fruit and then escape leaving a bare tree.
Given the above, you can imagine our delight when we saw a few figs ripening on our tree. Somehow, the birds had missed them. We whipped out the nets and covered the tree. We dreamed of fig jam, glazed figs and other delights.
This small bird-pecked handful was all we collected. I had to limit my plans to one jar of fig jam. Now, I am no jam maker. All my other attempts (except one) have turned to toffee. My previous attempts had failed as I am incapable of determining the setting point by placing a small amount of jam in iced water. But this time I armed myself with a jam thermometer.
The previous success was fig jam using Marguerite Patten’s recipe from 1,000 Favourite Recipes.
- 450g fresh figs
- 450g sugar
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice (being an English book, that is 30 mls not 40 mls as English tablespoons are 15 mls)
Marguerite Patten advised that, when making preserves, one should allow the sugar and fruit to stand for several hours so the natural juices flow. She also warned against over boiling the preserves as it spoils the colour, flavour and consistency.
- Quarter the figs
- Put them into a pot with the sugar
- Leave for 4 hours
- Stir over low heat until the sugar is dissolved
- Boil rapidly until setting point is reached (this is the tricky bit)
- Pour into sterilised jars
I had to halve the recipe as I only had my small handful of bird-nibbled figs.
I stirred away with my eyes glued to the thermometer and the second it reached 105 degrees, I whizzed it off the heat. But … it was too late, I had toffee again.
I was concerned I would never get the jam out of the jar.
From my experience, the internet answers all questions so I quickly put the computer on and typed: Saving jam turned to toffee.
I came across this suggestion in a forum: get the toffee out of the jar as quickly as possible and then integrate boiling water. I followed these instructions but I still had lumps of toffee which wouldn’t integrate. So I decided to put the lumpy (but yummy) mess into my small food processor. I gave it a whizz and hey presto, jam! I brought it back to the boil and poured it into the prepared sterilised jar. It tastes great.
I also learned on the forum that it can be very difficult to make jam in small quantities.
If any more figs escape the birds, I am going to have another try. I will conquer jam yet.