Even though we are in the middle of a drought, this is a busy time for jam and jelly making. The figs are starting to ripen. It should not be hard to find enough figs on a tree to make jam. I check out my fig tree every day to see what fruit has ripened since the previous day. I have noticed that some people prefer a lighter fig jam and that can be accomplished by picking the ripe fruit before they turn dark. If the tree does not have enough figs, pick them and then freeze them in a freezer zip-lock bag. Add to it until you have 10 cups of figs. Wash, chop off the ends of the fig, and then chop into pieces. Place figs, 1/2 cup water and lemon juice into cooking pot. Crush fruit. Add sugar and then add pectin after bringing it to a rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute and then cool. Pour into freezer containers and freeze after jam has set.
10 cups figs
1/4 cup lemon or lime juice
3 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 pkg No-sugar needed pectin
If you like fig jam but have already made more Fig Jam than you can store, then fig leather is a delicious alternative. Fig Leather is made by cooking and mashing the figs. Then the resulting product is spread either on a tray in the oven or in a dehydrator. It is then gradually heated at a low temperature until it is the consistency of leather.
This year I found a fig tree that produced figs over an eight week period of time. I picked the figs as they ripened and froze them. I still have lots of fig jam so I decided to make Fig Leather. I cut off the stem end of the fig and chopped up the fig into quarters. I cooked all the figs (about 8 cups) in a tall pot. I added 1/4 cup of lemon juice. I mashed the figs as they cooked. I suggested a tall pot because the pulp plops up as it cooks so having a tall pan reduces the mess on your stovetop. This cooking could easily be done in a crock pot. You want to reduce the sauce as much as possible since you are going to dehydrate it. Add 1/2 cup of sugar if your figs are not sweet. I also added 1 tablespoon of cinnamon. After stirring well and cooking for another 10 minutes I spread the contents on my drying surface. If you are going to dry this in an oven then spread on oiled cookie sheets. Put the oven on the lowest temperature setting possible. I have been known to leave the oven door propped open. I tried drying them in an evaporator this year. My evaporator did not have special plastic trays designed for making fruit leather so I cut parchment paper (found in the grocery store along side plastic wrap) into a shape that fit the dehydrator. I then poured the fig sauce into the trays. You don’t want the sauce spread to thick or too thin. About 1/8 of an inch seemed to work best. You want to spread it evenly since if it is too thin in places it will dry faster than the thicker parts making it hard to get the consistency you want. I can not give you the time frame for drying it because there are too many variables such as types of dehydrators, thickness of sauce, and how thickly you spread it. Do count on any where from 6-24 hours. After removing the leather from the parchment let it cool. Then cut and roll it up in plastic. I put the wrapped fig leather into ziplock bags and either freeze them or put it into the refrigerator since here in the South it would probably mold in our heat and humidity even though it is dried.
Fig Leather Recipe
10 cups of figs (not overly ripe)
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar