Southern Fig Preserves

fig preserves from Judy R
Diana Rattray
  • 3 hrs 25 mins
  • Prep: 25 mins,
  • Cook: 3 hrs
  • Yield: 5 to 6 Pints (36 servings)
Ratings (33)

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 ahead 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.

What You'll Need

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

How to Make It

  1. Wash, drain and stem the figs.
  2. Put the figs in a 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, stirring occasionally 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.​
  1. 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.
  2. 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. 
  3. 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).
  4. 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.
  5. 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, 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.

Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
Calories 350
Total Fat 0 g
Saturated Fat 0 g
Unsaturated Fat 0 g
Cholesterol 0 mg
Sodium 2 mg
Carbohydrates 91 g
Dietary Fiber 2 g
Protein 1 g
(The nutrition information on our recipes is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate. Individual results may vary.)