Figs that we find on our trees in our yards are like a different fruit when compared to Fig Newtons and dried figs. My children didn't like Fig Newtons but they could be seen standing in front of the fig tree and devouring the figs. They had learned through trial and error how to tell which were ripe. They picked them and ate them right there.
Picking and eating or picking and preserving is the best thing to do with figs. Figs need quick attention. They also need to be harvested at their best moment. Figs don't ripen once they leave the tree. If this is your first time to can, here is a list of supplies that one needs for canning figs.
- water bath canner
- canning set (funnel, tongs, lid lifter, and headspace measure)
- lids and bands
- Fruit Fresh (prevents darkening of fruit)
- thick towel
To prepare the jars, they can be washed in a dishwasher if it has a sanitizing cycle. The jars can be left in the dishwasher on a heat cycle. The lids need to be washed and left in the hot water. The canner needs to be filled so that there will be an inch of boiling water over the top of the jars.
Preparing the Figs
I will use Celeste Figs for these directions. These are found in many yards in the South. Celeste Figs are about the size of an egg and have a purplish-brown color when they are ripe. Their flesh is a smooth, sweet, purplish color inside. I recommend pint jars for canning figs. It takes about 11 pounds of figs to can 9 jars.
- Wash the figs gently and leave them intact. Don't peel them, chop them, or remove the stems. Leave the figs in a colander and make the simple syrup that you are using. The lightest simple syrup is probably the best. Use at least twice the amount of water as sugar and bring it to a boil. If you choose, white grape juice or apple juice can be used. Of course, you may make the syrup with less water and make a heavier syrup.
- The next step is to blanche the figs. The water needs to be boiling and it needs to cover all of the figs. Let the figs boil for 2 minutes. After boiling, remove the figs from the water and drain.
- The figs need to go into the syrup next and boiled gently for 5 minutes.
Note: Nutrasweet will not work as a substitute for sugar. Splenda suggests that you use a half and half mixture of Splenda and sugar when cooking.
- Add the preservative, 1 Tablespoon of lemon juice per pint. Check directions on Fruit Fresh if you are using it or a commercial brand.
- Fill the jars. Tap the jar lightly on the counter to help the figs settle into jar without breaking up the figs. Once the figs have filled the jars, add the simple syrup until the jar is filled, leaving 1/2 - 1/4 inch of headspace. Wipe the top of the jar.
- Add the lids and bands. Use the jar tongs to place the fig jars in the canner.
- Keep two inches of water over the jar tops. Keep the water boiling. Boil for 45 minutes. Once the figs are processes, remove from the canner and set them upright on the thick towel on the counter. Keep a few inches between jars.
- Check the tops as they cool to be sure the lid is tight. Any loose lids mean you must eat them within two days and they must have been refrigerated for that time.
It is suggested that the figs be eaten in the next 12 to 18 months. They become a little runny and start to break down after that. Good fig eating even if they aren't on the trees when you want one.