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What Are the Best Tips for Making Fig Preserves?

Lakshmi Sandhana
Lakshmi Sandhana

It can be quite easy to make mouthwatering fig preserves by just following a few tips. Preserves have chunks of fruit in them instead of just having a uniform, mash-like consistency, as in jam. Some of the best tips to make fig preserves include covering the sauce pan in water to avoid scorching the figs. Cooking them slowly on a low flame allows the juices in the fig to blend nicely with the sugar solution. It's also important to cook them in small amounts, around 2 cups (470 ml) of figs each time.

Making excellent fig preserves begins with choosing figs that are firm and ripe. If the figs are mushy, soft, and basically too ripe, they will become mush during the process. To get a chunky preserve with whole figs in it, firm figs with a texture similar to a peach need to be chosen. Once purchased, they either need to be turned into preserves fast or stored in the refrigerator to avoid spoiling. Some cooks prefer to cut the stems off the figs and slice them in half.

Star anise can be added to fig preserves to give a licorice flavor.
Star anise can be added to fig preserves to give a licorice flavor.

Small figs can be left whole, but the bigger ones are best sliced. These are then placed in a pot, covered with about 2 cups (470 ml) of sugar and allowed to sit overnight. This helps to draw the juices out of the fruit, which dissolve the sugar. The figs and sugar can be layered on top of each other until the pot is full. During the cooking process, it is important to not stir the mixture a lot and use a long-handled spoon. Those who wish to avoid lots of sugar can use honey instead.


Fig preserves can be made more exotic by adding ingredients like fresh ginger or star anise or a few cloves to the simmering fruit. Some prefer to give more fragrance to their preserves by adding a teaspoon (five milliliters) of vanilla or throwing in a few cinnamon sticks. To give it an interesting twist, a whole blanched almond may be inserted into every fig before the simmering process. The mixture can be tasted for sweetness, and more sugar can be added if needed. It's important to cook the figs until they are translucent or nearly so.

Figs growing on the tree.
Figs growing on the tree.

Some cooks recommend adding a dash of salt to allow all the flavors to come together. While fresh figs make for the best fig preserves, dried figs can also be used. In this case, they need to be rehydrated by soaking them in water overnight. It's also critical to sterilize the jars and jar lids used to store the final preserves properly, using boiling water or a dishwasher.

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Discussion Comments


@pastanaga - I just like having figs all year round and I'm always disappointed when the season ends. Fresh figs are so lovely, but fig preserves are better than nothing.

I also like to dry a whole bunch and I'm hoping to can some next year as well. But I've got a couple of fig trees so I'm always looking for new things to do with them.


@KoiwiGal - Not to put anyone off preserving figs, but it's also nice to leave a few on the trees for your local birds. They appreciate a nice fig as well.

I also like to put a bunch outside the front of my house for anyone who wants to take a couple. If the fig tree can be generous, I can be as well!


It's a good idea to have a whole bunch of figs recipes up your sleeve if you're lucky enough to have a fig tree in your backyard. They tend to grow fast and produce a lot of fruit, but figs won't ripen once you pick them, which means you can't store them very long off the tree.

So unless you're able to eat a lot of figs at a time, preserving them in jams and jellies and preserves is the best idea.

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    • Star anise can be added to fig preserves to give a licorice flavor.
      Star anise can be added to fig preserves to give a licorice flavor.
    • Figs.
    • Figs growing on the tree.
      Figs growing on the tree.
    • Dried figs.
      By: SK
      Dried figs.