What is Fig Jelly?

Mary McMahon

Fig jelly is a form of fig preserves made with the juice from fresh figs. Fig jelly is clear, with a smooth texture which makes it easy to use as a spread on a variety of foods. Like other jellies, fig jelly has less of the nutritional value of the fruit it is made from, since it doesn't include the whole fruit, but the even texture makes it easier to work with. Some shops sell fig jelly, and it can also be made at home in regions where people have access to fresh figs.


As with other jellies, fig jelly is made by cooking figs with sugar and water until the figs start to soften, and then straining the mixture, typically through cheesecloth to remove as many particles as possible. The resulting liquid can be used to make jelly, while the solids left behind can be integrated into jam, chutney, and other preserves. The color of fig jelly can vary, depending on the type of figs used, so it may be green, red or brown.

Dried figs.
Dried figs.

The ingredient which causes jellies and jams to firm up is pectin, a substance found naturally in fruits. In the case of jelly, much of the natural pectin is left behind in the solids, so just canning the liquid will result in canned liquid. Cooks must add pectin to the liquid after reheating it, and then can the freshly re-heated fig liquid in sterile jars, where it will slowly set to create jelly.

Canning can be complicated. If the jars are not sterile or not sealed properly, they can become breeding grounds for bacteria which will make the food inside unsafe. Sometimes, spoiled canned goods are easy to identify, because of a strange odor or color. In other cases, the food may look perfectly safe, but it may be quite dangerous. Food tainted with botulism, for example, is indistinguishable from regular canned goods.

When cooks make fig jelly for home canning, they must use a canning bath to keep the canning jars in boiling water, and the jelly mixture must also be brought to the boil to deter bacteria, before being poured immediately into hot jars and sealed. If the seal “takes,” it will invert slightly. Improperly sealed jars will have lids which expand; these jars need to be emptied, resterilized, and resealed with freshly heated fig jelly.

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

Discussion Comments


Mmmm. Love this stuff. Saw a jar for the first time the other day at my local market. It was a Croatian fig jelly. Actually, it was probably more of a fig jam or fig preserves with some chunks in it. It was a great alternative to the usual strawberry and raspberry jellies I've been accustomed to!

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