Monday, August 30, 2010

Fig Butter

Melinda, who guest posted about Vegetarian Cabbage Rolls recently, was gifted with a bounty of very ripe figs last week.  What better to do than make jam?  I am particularly happy to hear how her jam making went, since I am still hoping that my half of the fig tree that straddles mine and my neighbor's backyards will some day render me enough fruit (before the birds eat it all) that I too can make jam.  Her thoughts on the addition of ingredients like ginger, cardamom and orange make the whole idea so very seductive to me.  Can't wait 'til my tree produces again.  Thank you, Melinda!


At work one day, I happened to mention that I like figs a lot. My manager was interested to hear this, because it just so happens that he has a fig tree himself, and nobody in his family likes figs. I was stunned to hear this, as I previously didn't think it was possible to grow figs in the Pacific Northwest or to dislike them.

I forgot about this conversation entirely, until I came to work one day to find a bag full of figs at my desk. They were easily the largest figs I have ever seen- about the size of avocados- and they were green and purple, with a lovely creamy texture on the inside, and a delicate flavor. I ate one with a spoon right there and then, but what was I to do with the other four and a half pounds of them?

The answer, I decided, was jam. After they sat on the counter for a couple of days and turned a little more mushy, I removed their stems and threw them in a pot, peels and all, with a little water, white sugar, lemon juice, ginger and cardamom. I brought them to a boil, simmered them until they congealed a bit, and blended the whole thing up with my hand blender.

It didn't turn out much like jam at all - it had a consistency more like apple butter, which I love, so I was happy with that. Next time, though, I think I'd rather use brown sugar, orange juice and a little orange rind, and more cardamom, with less ginger.  I think that those ingredients would do a better job of highlighting the fig flavor rather than overpowering it. What I made has a very satisfying gingery bite, though, and it would go very well with some smelly cheese or on a burger with caramelized onions.


Celeste August 30, 2010 at 4:07 PM  

Fig butter puts me in the mind of crock-pot apple butter....I wonder if figs would take to the slow-cooker treatment? Hmm, I'll have to try this when my tree one day produces more than a handful of fruit.

NOJuju August 30, 2010 at 4:12 PM  

I keep thinking about that gorgonzola, fig, pecan and speck pizza we had at Domenica and wondering if Melinda's fig butter would work if very lightly brushed over a homemade pizza. I bet it would and it's making my mouth water thinking about it.

Lisa August 31, 2010 at 2:29 AM  

YUM! I also love apple butter, pear butter, pumpkin butter - love the creamy texture. Sounds like a very tasty condiment.

Lola,  August 31, 2010 at 4:51 PM  

Ahhhh what a great picture. Cardamom, what a great idea to pair with them. I wonder if it would work to poach the figs in something with cardamom and star anise?

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