Southern Fig Preserves

fig preserves on a biscuit
Diana Rattray
  • Total: 3 hrs 25 mins
  • Prep: 25 mins
  • Cook: 3 hrs
  • Sitting Time: 12 hrs
  • Yield: 5 to 6 Pints (36 servings)
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
350 Calories
0g Fat
91g Carbs
1g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 5 to 6 Pints (36 servings)
Amount per serving
Calories 350
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 91g 33%
Dietary Fiber 2g 8%
Protein 1g
Calcium 28mg 2%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

This old-fashioned recipe for fig preserves includes just three ingredients: figs, sugar, and lemon. The figs are simply cooked with an equal amount of sugar and some thinly sliced seeded lemons, resulting in a delicious spread perfect on a biscuit or served with a cheese platter. 

You do need to plan since the sugar-covered figs have to sit overnight. This recipe makes a large quantity, so you can cut it into thirds if need be.


  • 6 pounds fresh figs (peeled or unpeeled)
  • 6 pounds sugar
  • 3 lemons (very thinly sliced, seeds removed)

Steps to Make It

  1. Wash, drain and stem the figs.

  2. Put the figs in large stainless steel or enamel-lined stockpot or Dutch oven. Pour the granulated sugar over the figs and let sit overnight. 

  3. Place the pot over medium heat and cook the fig-sugar mixture until the sugar is completely dissolved, stirring constantly.

  4. Reduce the heat to low and add lemon slices. Cover and cook, occasionally stirring to prevent sticking until the figs are transparent and the syrup is thick about 2 to 3 hours. If possible, use a candy/deep-fry thermometer—the jelling point to look for is 220 F to 225 F.​

  5. Meanwhile, prepare the jars and boiling water bath for canning. Sterilize the jars and lids and fill a large canning kettle with water and bring to a boil.

  6. Pour the hot preserves into hot sterilized jars, leaving 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe the rims and place the lids and rings on the jars. 

  7. Place the jars on the rack in the boiling water canner. Add more hot water to bring it to a depth of 1 inch above the tops of the jars, if necessary. Bring the water back to a gentle boil and continue boiling for 10 minutes (or 15 minutes if your altitude is above 6000 feet).

  8. Using jar lifters or heat-proof rubber-tipped tongs, remove the processed jars to a rack and let them cool. Check to make sure they are sealed and then store in a cool, dark place.

  9. If any jar does not seal, refrigerate and use right away or freeze the jam in a freezer container. If you use a glass jar to freeze the jam, then leave at least 1 inch of headspace.

Additional Recipes

It may be unlikely you have over six pounds of figs on hand, but if you're looking for other recipes made with fresh figs, there are several delicious ones to consider. Fresh fig bread is moist and flavorful due to the buttermilk, cinnamon, and plenty of mashed fresh figs; the pecans also add a nice crunchy texture. If a fig cake is what you are after, this recipe includes ground almonds and warm spices, making a comforting dessert that can be eaten any time. Let's not forget about enjoying fresh figs raw, however, and a spinach salad with figs and warm bacon dressing is the perfect way to do just that.