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Sunday, October 9, 2011

Fig and Orange Marmalade

Everything has been late this year. It's October, but the farmers' market is still looking like early September. Tomatoes, cucumbers, corn and peaches are all still coming in like gangbusters. This week I even saw baskets of figs. If you read this post, you know how I feel about figs. They are a miracle of nature. I was lucky enough to visit my friend Diane's fig trees a few weeks ago. She lives by the river and her trees have access to a pretty high water table. These generous trees not only provided figs, but held up wild grapes. There were beautiful purple clusters hanging down like Christmas tree ornaments.   While there are many advantages to living by a river, you must share your land's bounty with the local wild life. Deer, raccoons and birds all feast on these fruits. I wasn't able to reach any of the grapes. I don't think my reach is any higher than a deer's. I was lucky to find a couple of pounds of figs that had just ripened and had not yet been enjoyed.
 I was contemplating making a third batch of fig and balsamic jam, but didn't have enough figs and I had run out of the very good balsamic vinegar I had been using. So, I decided to go with another classic pairing - figs and oranges.
When you open the jar, the orange scent hits first. When you taste, the orange and fig flavors meld with the figs bringing their own velvety, crunchy texture. Figs are the beaded velvet ball gown of Nature! The color is reminiscent of a late evening sunset. Enjoy!

Fig and Orange Marmalade
6 cups chopped figs
4 oranges (I used organic Valencia)
1/2 cup lemon juice
4 cups sugar

Place the chopped figs, lemon juice and sugar in a large non-reactive bowl and let macerate while you prepare the oranges.

Remove the orange zest. I used a peeling tool that cuts into little strips. Place the orange zest in a sauce pan and cover with cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Drain.

Cut the remaining peel off the oranges and remove the segments without getting any of the pith or membranes. Be sure to do this over the bowl so you capture any juices. Squeeze any remaining juice out of the peels. Stir the orange zest and orange segments and juice into the fig mixture. You can store this in the fridge until you are ready to jam. (I often do weeknight canning in increments.)

Prepare the boiling water bath and place some spoons on a saucer in the freezer. Prepare the jars and lids.

Place the fig and orange mixture in a large pot and bring to a boil. Boil until it is thick and glossy. If you wish, you can scoop out some of the foam and seeds that float to the top as you stir. I fished out about a quarter cup of seeds! My thermometer is broken, so I'm depending on how the jam looks and tastes. When the jam begins to thicken and the foam subsides, begin testing with your frozen spoons. When the jam mounds nicely and runs off the spoon slowly instead of fast, you are pretty much there. There is a certain mouth feel that tells me when it is done. Taste as you go, but let it cool first!

When the jam is ready, carefully ladle it into the prepared jars. Wipe the rim with a clean, wet cloth and top with lids and rings. Process in the boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the jars sit in the water bath a few minutes more. Carefully remove the jars to a towel lined tray. Allow to stand over night. Check the seals and wipe away any remaining moisture and label.

Makes 7 half pint jars.


2 comments:

  1. I recently picked up an amazing european fig-orange jam and this looks like just the right kind of recipe for me to try. Thanks!

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