Thursday, July 2, 2015

Bourbon Fig Preserves

I've been patiently waiting for the figs to ripen, stalking might be a more appropriate word. The first week was sheer delight, ate all of those raw.  Ate so many that my mouth was beginning to have blisters, but it was worth it.  I love figs as much as I love tomatoes, and that says a lot! Between yesterday and today I had harvested so many that it became the perfect time to start putting them up. Last year I made 24 quart jars, I ran out about a month ago and its been a long month.  I use these in so many different ways at the shop, from roast pork to sandwiches and of course cheese and pancakes and well, just right out of the jar with a spoon. I got to use my newly acquired antique copper kettle and that made the process all the better, all the pretty things. This particular tree is Texas overbearing, at the shop I have Celeste and LSU gold varieties. This year I might have enough of the LSU Gold to put up, those are milder in flavor but with more of a honey taste. Hopefully between the squirrels and the birds there will be enough for me.

I find that the ratio of 2 to 1, fruit to sugar works well in all my canning.  I seldom use pectin, but instead just cook the jam or preserves down until they thicken. It's a little hard to tell with these because the syrup stays pretty loose.  I find that watching the volume is the best way for me to tell when they're ready. I turn down the heat so the boiling will stop for a few seconds and when reduced by about half, it's ready to go.  As for the tools, the canning ladle, canning rack, canning funnel and tongs I find these items indispensable for canning.  These items make jam making so much easier and I while I usually dislike single purpose kitchen gadgets, I can't do whithout these.  They keep me from getting burned by the water and the scalding sugar syrup, which with my track record it a definite plus.

Bourbon Fig Preserves

6 lb.'s fresh figs
3 lb's superfine sugar
6 oz. lemon juice
1/2 cup bourbon

1. Wash the figs and place them in a large non-reactive pot or copper kettle. Add the sugar, bourbon and lemon juice stir until combined.  Cook over high heat until the mixture comes to a rolling boil.  Stir a few times with a wooden spoon or heat-proof rubber spatula.  At this point, I mash them a little with the spoon to break them up, but its optional. Continue to cook for 25-30 minutes until reduced by almost half.

2. While the preserves are cooking, sterilize your jars and lids in boiling water. (I also sterilize the paddle and funnel I will later use for filling the jars). I use a canning rack in the bottom of a pot tall enough to hold the jars completely submerged in water. Bring the water to a rolling boil, this usually takes at least 20 minutes which is about the time it takes for the figs to cook.

3. When the figs are ready fill the jars with a canning funnel and ladle up to 1/2" from the rim. Seal the jars and place carefully in the water bath with canning tongs.  Process for 8-10 minutes, remove from water bath and set aside to cool.

Makes 72 ounces of Preserves.

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