This recipe only requires two ingredients (three if you count the water for the syrup), and it’s the best way to preserve this delicate fruit after summer has gone.
If I think of figs in syrup, it takes me back to my grandma’s or great-grandma’s house, when I was a kid. When we would visit for lunch, it was a big deal opening a new jar of this preserve. In the backyard, there was a huge fig tree, so they had to get creative in order to come up with a solution for preserving this delicate fruit for the next couple of months. As the fresh fruit only lasts a few days, and God allowed they would throw any fruit away (pioneer family in this #zerowaste movement), this recipe allowed the whole family to have a proper dessert for months.
I bet you have probably eaten figs in any shape at any time of your life. Dry figs, in tarts, jam, ice cream, or even with cheese. But, in case you haven’t been lucky enough to try figs in syrup, I invite you all to give this recipe a shot and let me know your thoughts.
I would like to tell you this recipe has been tested and tasted. Without a doubt, you’ll get exactly what I used to eat as a kid. I would also like you to appreciate it as it took me a while to “decode”. Why? Well, because in order to make it worth it of this blog, I had to measure times and ingredients. You probably don’t know this, but in my family, most recipes are eye-measured. A little bit of this, a little bit of that. A pinch of this, a handful of that. So thanks to my perseverance and trial and error, here you have the magic formula (and exact).
What figs to use
Even though there exists a wide range of figs, my family and I already use the variety that is green with a reddish center. To be honest, I don’t know the specific name. Let me tell you. I look it up, but my search was not successful. The important fact is that, if they meet these characteristics, the recipe will be awesome anyways.
However, something essential to get a spot-on recipe and to make sure they keep their form is to select figs that are almost ripe. What does this mean? They shouldn’t be completely ripe, they need to be a bit firm. Otherwise, when we add them into the syrup, they’ll probably end up becoming fig jam. No complaining there, but that’s a recipe for another day.
How to make figs in syrup
Once we clean and cut the stems off the figs, we need to pinch them with a toothpick a few times. This will allow the syrup to cover them all from the inside out. In the meantime, add the sugar and the water in a small saucepan and bring to boil at medium hear. Very carefully, place the figs in the syrup, lower the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, without stirring much. Otherwise, we run the risk of breaking them apart. After these 20 minutes, turn the stove off and let them cool completely. It could be overnight or for a few hours. Whatever is more convenient for you. Then, we’ll repeat. We take the figs to low heat until they boil for 20 more minutes.
I suggest eating them with a dollop of whipped cream (without sugar if homemade), Greek yoghurt or cream cheese. If you dare and are not afraid of going into a sugar coma, try it with vanilla ice cream. You’re welcome!
How to sterilize jars
There are many ways to sterilize jars when making jams or preserves. The one method I learned from my mom is super easy. 1. Wash the jars and lids in hot water (or boil them in a pan covered with water). 2. Dry them well. 3. Clean the lids with ethyl alcohol which gets rid of any rebel bacteria hanging around.
Next, add the figs in syrup while they are hot. Close tightly and flip the jars bottom-down. Let them cool completely. Once they cooled down, flip them back and store them. This method has never failed me. Give it a shot and let me know your thoughts.
After all this…
If after all this info, I haven’t convinced you to try this recipe, here you have some more facts I learned while doing some research about this fruit:
- Rich in fiber
- It provides a wide range of vitamins and minerals essential for the good functioning of the human body.
- Reduces stress.
- Used as a way to treat various medical conditions
- Funny fact: Technically speaking, figs are inverted flowers, not a fruit, and their existence is thanks to wasps (source).
If you want to learn more about their benefits, I found this article very interesting.
WARNING (and included anecdote): Please, do not leave the syrup cooking on the stove with paying close attention. If the liquid evaporates completely, it can produce a very think smoke and possibly ruin your favorite pan. When I was a kid, my adorable mother left home one day and left the figs cooking. (In her defence, she forgot about them). It turns out that when she arrives at our building, she sees this smoke coming out of a window and firefighters walking out of the building. And out loud she wonders who would have been the silly (just to put it a bit more diplomatic) resident whose house had a visit from the fire department. You can all imagine the answer. Yeap, it was her.
It’s worth mentioning, just in case, this is not a brand-new discovery or invention. However, that doesn’t make it less worth it of being in this blog, where all my recipes (as you know) have to be easy to make and extremely delicious.
Figs in Syrup
- 1 kg fresh figs
- 750 g sugar
- 500 ml water
- Wash the figs and insert a toothpick in each of them several times.
- In a saucepan, add the sugar and the water. At low heat, bring to a simmer.
- Carefully add the figs and let them simmer for 10 minutes (still at low heat).
- Turn the heat off and let them cool completely.
- At low heat, bring to a simmer again. Let them simmer for an extra 20 minutes.
- Once the figs look semi-transparent covered in syrup and the syrup is think enough (and darker colour), taka them to a sterilized jar. Pour the syrup on top and close firmly.
- FIGS: Make sure to choose ripe figs, but not super firm. If they are too soft, they may lose their shape while simmering.
- STORAGE: These preserved figs last months in a dark and cool place.