Monday, October 26, 2009

The Harvest Continues...

Last weekend I got to harvest figs and grapes with the Portland Fruit Tree Project. I love picking fruit, obviously, and I love having fruit to cook with, but the other best part of the PFTP is having friends come to harvest parties with me so we can hang out and talk all morning while up a 15-foot orchard ladder picking figs or craning our necks and having grapes rain down all over us.

I made the best thing I've ever made with figs: Honey-Lemon-Fig Marmalade. It's a beautiful rosy color because I used black figs with red insides, and the lemon gives it a much needed tart and bitter counterpoint to the intense sweetness of the figs and honey. I can't wait to serve it at holiday parties with cream cheese and crackers.

I started with a recipe from, but made some changes based on how many figs I had and my own taste.

3 cups fresh figs (stems and a slice off the bottom removed), mashed into the measuring cups
1 1/2 cups mild honey
1 whole Meyer lemon plus juice of 1/2 Meyer lemon
1 bay leaf

Chop figs or break them up with your hands until there are no pieces left that are bigger than a chunk you'd like to find in your jam (for me, this is about 1/2 inch pieces). Put the figs in a wide, non-reactive pot, and add the honey. Finely chop one whole Meyer lemon, including rind, and pick out the seeds. Add the lemon (but not the seeds) to the pot with the figs, along with the juice of an additional 1/2 lemon and the bay leaf.

Bring jam to a boil, then cook over low heat until thick and jamlike and reduced in volume by about half, stirring occasionally. This took me about 1 1/2 hours. Meanwhile, fill up your canning pot with water and bring it to a boil and sterilize six 4-oz canning jars (this jam is intense, so I think the small jars are a good idea). I'm assuming that you know how to can or can look up the procedure on one of the many extension service sites, so I'll just say, once your jam is done, take out the bay leaf, ladle the jam into the jars with 1/4 inch headroom and process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. For me, this recipe made six 4-ounce jars with a little left over to spread on toasted baguette slices with cream cheese.

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