Southern Fig Preserves

fig preserves on a biscuit
Diana Rattray
  • Total: 3 hrs 15 mins
  • Prep: 15 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
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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.)

Figs have two short harvest seasons every year, once in early summer and once in the fall. If you're lucky enough to have a fig tree or find a good deal at the grocer, then you may end up with more figs than you know what to do with. One great way to use up figs and enjoy them while they're not in season is to turn them into preserves.

This old-fashioned recipe for fig preserves includes just three ingredients: figs, sugar, and lemon. Figs have a natural, honey-like sweetness, so lemon adds a nice bit of acidity and brightness. The ripe fruit is cooked down slowly with an equal amount of sugar and some lemon slices, resulting in a delicious spread perfect on a biscuit or served with a cheese platter. 

Ingredients

  • 6 pounds fresh figs (peeled or unpeeled, approximately 18 cups)
  • 6 pounds granulated sugar (approximately 13 cups)
  • 3 lemons (very thinly sliced, seeds removed)

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

  2. Wash, drain, and stem the figs.

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

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

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

  6. 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.

  7. 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. 

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

  9. 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.

Tips

  • You do need to plan ahead since the sugar-coated figs sit overnight before cooking.
  • If you don't want to can your preserves, skip sterilizing the jars and place in the fridge instead of processing, using within three weeks.
  • If you want to freeze some preserves, leave at least an inch of space at the top of the jar.
  • 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.
  • This recipe makes a large quantity, so you can halve it or just make a third (using two pounds of figs).