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Pump up the Jam

Kate Mac’s homemade Fig Jam
Recently Glamourdadi came home from the markets with a box of figs. Whilst some partners bestow their lovers with flowers or jewels, mine knows the way to my heart is with fresh produce. An attempt to get Figgy with it? Hmmm…
Anyhow, I LOVE figs! (Toddler not partial. Wondering if swapped at birth in hospital?) and they are gorgeous at this time of year (figs, not Toddlers). After a week of fresh figs, fig rocket and parmesan salad, fig muffins, grilled figs with ice cream, fig smoothies, fig and prosciutto pizza … I was a little Figged out to be honest! What the Fig?!!
Worst thing was, there was still half a tray of the little blighters in the downstairs fridge threatening to turn into penicillin. What to do?… I hate to waste such a decadent gesture but this delicious glut was ridiculous.
I scratched my Fig leaf and – lightning bolt “Martha” moment – Jam it, baby!
Start with juicy fresh ripe figs

I have never made Jam before, but there’s no time like the present. Feeling very brave and a little bit Country, I figured my trusty copy of The Cooks Companion by Stephanie Alexander would have the answers – bingo! Page 445 and there is a Fig Jam recipe. All you need is lots of sugar, figs, lemon and red wine vinegar. I have ammended Stephanie’s recipe slightly and used orange instead of lemon. It gives the jam a marmaladey taste which I prefer to the tartness of lemon. There’s also no need to mess about with jam setting powder in this recipe, as citrus fruit already contains natural pectin (which is the stuff that makes the boiled fruit sticky and jammy).

Step 1: Cut figs into bite sized pieces
1 kg ripe figs, cut into bite sized pieces
750g caster sugar
2/3 of a whole orange, washed and finely sliced
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
Step 2: add the sugar, orange and vinegar into a large pot and stir
it will start to look like this
and after almost an hour, will eventually look something like this.
You can tell the jam is ready and will set when you smear a bit on a plate, let it cool slightly. If its sticky, then it will set!
Now I have a confession to make. I collect empty jars. I have never known why. Except that since the age of 19 I felt it very grown up to wash the empty jars, scrub them clean of their labels, and store them in cupboards. Several of my kitchen cupboards are usually dedicated to this “hobby”. I almost never use the empty jars but for some elusive reason, I find it comforting to know they are there. Any person who has ever shared a kitchen with me will tell you it’s an endless source of frustration. Glamourdadi is no exception.
Today however, I triumphantly had a purpose and explanation for years of pointless collecting – apparently it was all leading up to this moment!

Step 4: to sterilize the jars, boil in a large pot for 10 minutes, then dry in oven at 150 degrees.

Step 5: let the Jam cool slightly then spoon it into sterilized jars, seal and refrigerate.

So I rattled through said cupboards and joyfully plucked the prettiest and most unusually shaped ones. Then, summoning the culinary energies of she-who-knows-all-domestic-vagaries, necessities and delights, I took a deep breath, channelled my inner Martha, downloaded Shania Twain “Damn, I feel like a Woman” on my iPod and plunged elbow deep in the sticky Jammy world. Very much thinking I could possibly even enter the Country Womens Association Jam making contest.

Step 6: With some old scraps of fabric, tie a piece over the cap with a rubber band to secure it.
The process is delightfully simple and therapeutic. If you can boil and egg, you can make Jam. The most bothersome part is sterilising the Jars – but being used to sterilising bottles, breast pump equipment and dummies, this surely is a doddle for us Mamas! Give it a try next rainy Sunday when you have a glut of fruit in your fridge.
Step 7: tie a pretty bow over the band, and trim with zig zaggy pinking shears.
Instant jammy gift!
The results? Mr Glamourdadi has declared it the “Best in Show” and chastised me for giving away a couple of jars. He’s become quite possessive over The Jam. It seems he’s happy living on The Jam with bread till we run out. He’s already suggesting ideas for the next batch to ensure this doesn’t happen.
I think Martha would approve
What do you collect for no good reason?
Kate xx
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