A glut of figs

A bowl of figs

The other day, the Guardian published an article on what to do with a glut of figs. It featured one lonely recipe, which required six figs. Luckily the Guardian community stepped in to provide many ideas for dealing with an actual glut.

I don’t personally have a glut, but I did notice the three fig trees groaning with fruit in a children’s playground I pass on the way to my daily swim. The ripe fruit was simply dropping to the ground, which seemed a terrible waste. So in the last few days I’ve picked over 2 kg, which is only a fraction of what’s there. Thanks to BBC Good Food and a commenter on the Guardian article, this post includes twice as many recipes as the Guardian article, and actually preserves the figs for future enjoyment. I’m very happy with the results of both: a delicious fig chutney, and spicy fig jam. Both very easy too. I adapted both of them according to taste and local circumstances.

Fresh fig chutney

Note: the original used cider vinegar, but I didn’t have any so I used sherry vinegar instead. This makes 2-3 jars.

200g light brown soft sugar
240ml sherry vinegar
600g chopped fresh figs
2 apples, peeled, cored and diced
2 onions, finely chopped
100g sultanas
2 tsp flaky sea salt

Just put all the ingredients in a heavy-based pan and simmer until the chutney is thick and jammy. The original recipe said one hour. Mine took two, maybe because I doubled the quantities, or perhaps my figs were very juicy. It is important to keep cooking until it’s thick, however long it takes. Runny chutney just does not work. Pot while hot in sterilised jars.

Spiced fig jam

In the past I’ve had difficulty getting fig jam to set. Figs are not pectin-rich, so you need to add something that is. But this time I had the epiphany that in this particular case, don’t worry about testing for a set. Just simmer until it is thick and jammy, as for the chutney. This quantity made 3 jars.

1 kg figs, destalked and roughly chopped
Zest of 2 lemons, finely grated
Juice of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 orange
2 tbs honey
460 g sugar
1 tsp 4-├ępices or mixed spice

Put everything except sugar and spice in a large heavy pan, mix well, and leave to macerate for an hour.

Then stir the mixture well and bring to the boil. Simmer until the fruit has broken down and the mixture is pulpy and soft. This took a good hour in my case, and I helped it by giving it a brief and selective whizz with a stick blender.

Add spice and sugar to the pan. Slowly bring to the boil and cook until the jam turns brown and has thickened, stirring occasionally to stop it sticking, especially towards the end. Again this took an hour. Be patient!

Pot while hot in sterilised jars.

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