I have read that there are people here in Michigan who grow figs in big pots and well-protected gardens despite the species’ decided preference for milder climates. I have not yet figured out how to do that myself, though someday I’d certainly like to give it a try. We are however, fortunate enough to have a reliable source of quality produce from far-flung places within an hour’s drive of the farm. So when things like figs are in season in the states where they do grow well (in this case California) I try to pick up a pint or five and put them by for a snowy day. It’s part of my older, wiser, more balanced approach to locavorism: Eat as much as possible from as close as possible; it eases the guilt of indulgence in everything else.
So, this past weekend when I went to the market to re-stock the pantry after a week at fair and found both green and black Californian figs on sale, I bought a couple pints without a plan other than to, in some way, pair them with pork. Because, obviously.
Once home a quick survey of other available ingredients — which included me pulling out of the cupboards and fridge anything that sounded like it might compliment figs and making a giant mess first — and these preserves were ultimately the result. They contain sugar, which I’ve been on a bit of a rampage against lately, but just enough to offset the heat and vinegar. Which I think is the key. I’m beyond disgruntled with the overpowering sweetness of so many canning recipes, the way the sugar overpowers the very flavors of summer you’re supposed to be preserving — even the supposedly low sugar types are a bit much, especially for preserves — but I think this is another one of those things where we have to remember not to throw the baby out with the bathwater. It’s not any sugar at all that’s the problem, it’s the blatant overuse of it at the detriment of our taste buds. I’ve been experimenting this summer with different balances of sugar to fruit and come up with what I think is a good compromise. This one hits that spot on the nose, if I do say so myself.
And on that note, I do believe I’ll skip to the recipe. Just a few last minute disclaimers first:
*This recipe was created by me, not a professional canning chef in a professional kitchen. I feel comfortable canning it for my family, but this is in no way a guarantee of safety in general. For 100% assurance of safety you could store it in your refrigerator instead — or even try freezing it.
**It calls for Chipotle Sea Salt, yes, I realize most of you probably do not have chipotle sea salt. You can use regular sea salt instead. I can’t help myself, I love specialty salts almost as much as I love pigs and tomato sandwiches.
***Check back tomorrow for a post on using this with pork to make a main dish.
- 1½ lb Figs
- 2 tsp Chipotle Sea Salt
- ½ cup Sugar
- ½ lb Sweet Onion
- ⅛ cup Balsamic Vinegar
- ½ Poblano Pepper
- ½ cup Water
- Rinse and cut figs into eighths. In large medium bowl, coat with sugar and salt and set aside.
- Finely dice sweet onion, toss with Balsamic Vinegar and caramelize in a large sautee pan. Just before onions are fully caramelized add finely diced poblano pepper and continue cooking.
- Add fig mixture and water to pan, stirring to combine and bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently to prevent burning, until figs have cooked down and sauce has reduced to desired consistency.
- Ladle into ½ pint jars, secure rings and lids, and process in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Allow to cool on a towel on the counter completely before removing rings, checking seal, and storing in cool, dark place for up to 1 year.
- *Disclaimer: Recipe has not been tested in a professional kitchen. Can at your own risk or store in refrigerator, instead.