The process of preserving figs is much simpler than what you might think, and are wonderful gifts for Christmas. A few hours worth of work and you will have a healthy supply of gorgeous preserved figs to use for months to come that friends and family will definitely love! Says friendly Magdeleen du Plessis from Clanwilliam: “You are simply born with a love for preserving”, she smiles as she proudly looks over the abundance of jars standing on the table in front of her.
Magdeleen’s husband is up early every morning to tend to farm chores and she decided to keep herself busy, she’ll start preserving fruit. Whole fruit preserves, jams, pickles and even a few dried fruit products are all things she has mastered over the years. “My mother was an avid preserver and at a young age I quickly learned all the ins and outs of the process”, she explains. Magdeleen has become somewhat of an expert on the subject and prides herself in the beautiful, well-made, handcrafted products she now sells at local farm stalls, festivals and markets.
The majority of the fruit comes from her own garden or she’ll buy fruit like peaches from local producers. She says that preserving is something you can do until well into old age. She enjoys it and every now and then her husband lends a hand with peeling quinces.
Magdeleen has inspired us to prepare a batch of preserved green figs. If they’ll be half as good as hers, we can’t guarantee, but who can resist the urge to run off to the market for a few kilo’s of fresh fruit and get cracking on the preserving pots.
What you’ll need:
- green figs, about 1.5 kg
- lime – you can get this from the pharmacy
- white sugar, about 1.5 kg
- water, about 1 L
- To get started, you’ll need to scrape the figs roughly with a paring knife. This is done to remove the outer layer of the peel. Make a crisscross incision at the bottom of each fig and place them into a large container.
- Now the fruit can be weighed. Write the weight down, before covering the figs with a lime and water solution. Work on 15 ml lime to 3.5 L water. The figs have to stand in this solution for at least 8 hours then it can be rinsed.
- Bring a large pot with water to a boil, then boil the figs for about 10 – 15 minutes, until just tender and remove the fruit from the water, trying to press out as much liquid as possible.
- Now make the syrup by measuring 500 g of sugar per 500 g of fruit (check the amount you wrote down previously) and combining that sugar with 900 ml of the boiling water. Add some cloves or a cinnamon stick to the syrup for flavour. Fresh root ginger or lemon juice can also be added. Bring the syrup to a simmer and add the figs. Allow the figs to simmer, gently, in the syrup for about 2 hours, or until the figs are translucent.
- Prepare a saucepan with extra syrup (500 g sugar to 900 ml water) to add to the simmering figs, if necessary.
- Pack the figs in sterilised jars, top up with hot syrup and seal.
Wrap a ribbon around the jar and wrap it beautifully to place under the Christmas tree, or serve it at Christmas lunch or dinner.
The next time you’re in the Cederberg area, see if you can’t spot Magdeleen’s top quality produce at a market or farm stall. It makes for lovely gifts, but be sure to get a jar or two extra for yourself, too!
Figs have featured extensively over the last few days on kitchen.net. We love the flavour, the diversity and also the extensive remedial properties of figs have. Read more about figs by following this link. Or browse through a variety of recipes utilising figs by following this link.