Cooking Louisiana  -  Fig Preserves
Fig Preserves to me are the ultimate biscuit stuffer. Finding properly ripened fresh figs to make fig preserves is the biggest challenge since many people pick them partially green. Fig preserves are not hard to make but it does take some time, like five hours.

A properly ripened fig will produce the fullest fig flavor preserves and the flesh will cook down nicely which means you don't have to peel them. I just happened to have a fig tree so I can pick them at the right time.

Ripe Turkey FigThe fig to the right is perfectly ripe and you can see it's purple all the way to the stem. You will also notice that it droops almost perfectly downward.

Note: I have one tree, so, I can never pick enough in one picking to make a batch of preserves. I just wash what I have and put them in the fridge whole leaving the stems on; they will last a few days.

To the store:
Citric acid (powdered), or, lemon juice
Canning jars
canning funnel

Wash the picked figs (I soak them a little while and gently move them around to get dirt off) and cut the stems off about 1/4" below where the stem attaches to the fig, or, where you can see the meat of the fig. Cut them in four or slice them, it doesn't mater. Put them in a Ziploc bag with water and citric acid (read below) and get all the air out.

FigsUse about 1/2 cup water and 1 tsp. citric acid powder per 4 cups (1 quart) of sliced figs. You can also used bottled lemon juice in the place of the powdered citric acid at 2 tbs. per quart. Put this in the fridge for about an hour.

The cooking process takes a few hours to get the figs to soften and jelly up a little (that's how I like it).

The recipe is simple.

2 to 1 figs & sugar.
2 cups of sliced figs and 1 cup of sugar.
4 cups of sliced figs and 2 cups of sugar... etc., etc.

The citric acid or lemon juice is not for flavor, it is to increase the acid content to protect against botulism. Figs are a low acid fruit which is why I use the pressure processing method. Pressure processing increases the final preservation temperature of the final product.

Use a non-reactive pot to cook the figs, for example stainless steel and coated non-stick pots. Don't use cast iron, aluminum or copper.

To cook: Pour the figs with the water out of the zip locks into the pot and add the sugar. Cook uncovered on a medium fire to start then after a while lower the fire; you want a nice medium boil going. At the beginning watch for it to foam up. It will settle down after that. The longer it cooks the more frequently you have to stir; use a wooden spatula, it works really well. As the figs cook they will thicken so lower the fire as you go especially near the end. You can burn this pretty easy. Cook to the desired consistency which is when you take a spoon of them out they kind of stick to the spoon when turned sideways.

Wash and then boil your jars and lids covered in water for about 5 minutes. Take them out with tongs and set them up to be filled. I just use a tray to catch what I miss. I also use a canning funnel; Wal-Mart usually has them.

Fill the hot jars to about 1/4" from the lid with the hot fig preserves. Screw the lids on and tighten only finger tight. If you over-tighten them air can't escape and that must happen. Try to keep everything hot if you can because we're trying to defeat bacteria through this whole process.

Pressure processing for 10 minutes is my recommended method. Read your pressure cooker manual.

Water bath processing is putting them right-side-up in a pot of water covering the lids by about two inches. Bring to a medium boil for about five to 10 minutes. Turn the fire off and take them out and tighten the lids. You'll hear the lids "pop"; that means they're sealed.  Set them to cool overnight at room temperature. Test the lids by pushing on the center of the lid. If you can press it down and hear the pop that jar didn't process. That's okay, just put that one in the refrigerator and use it first.

If you use the regular water bath method I recommend refrigerating them after they cool... your choice.