Southern Fig Preserves

Southern fig preserves in a glass jar and spread on a slice of white bread

The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 2 hrs 30 mins
Resting Time: 14 hrs 45 mins
Total: 17 hrs 30 mins
Servings: 36 servings
Yield: 4 pints
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
359 Calories
0g Fat
93g Carbs
1g Protein
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 36
Amount per serving
Calories 359
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 93g 34%
Dietary Fiber 3g 10%
Total Sugars 89g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 15mg 77%
Calcium 34mg 3%
Iron 0mg 3%
Potassium 223mg 5%
*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, so it's tempting to stock up, meaning 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 3 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 a generous amount of sugar and some lemon slices, resulting in a delicious spread perfect on a biscuit or as part of a cheese platter.

“What a treat to celebrate fresh seasonal figs in a recipe that I can enjoy with my morning toast or with my cheese and crackers! I prefer to appreciate the fresh fig profile, so I used the sugar level suggested.” —Mary Jo Romano

Southern Fig Preserves/Tester Image
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 6 pounds fresh figs, peeled or unpeeled (approximately 18 cups)

  • 2 to 6 pounds granulated sugar, to taste

  • 2 lemons, very thinly sliced, seeds removed

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for southern fig preserves recipe gathered

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Wash, dry, and stem the figs.

    Purple figs with stems removed using a paring knife on a white cutting board

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  3. Put the figs in large Dutch oven or other heavy-duty pot. Pour 2 cups of sugar over the figs. Cover, and let sit overnight. 

    Fresh figs covered with sugar in a Dutch oven

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  4. Taste the fig-sugar mixture, adding more sugar, if desired.

    Place the pot over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 15 minutes.

    Figs, dissolving sugar, and liquid from figs in a large pot

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  5. Reduce the heat to low. Add the lemon slices. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally until the figs are transparent and the syrup is thick, 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

    Attach a candy thermometer to the side of the pot, making sure the tip does not touch the bottom. Continue to simmer, stirring frequently, until the mixture reaches 200 F, about 45 minutes more.

    Figs and sugar cooking in a large pot with a thermometer inserted

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  6. Meanwhile, prepare the jars and boiling water bath for canning. Sterilize the jars and lids.

    Water bath canner with rack, canning jars, lids, and bands on a tray

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  7. Fill a large canning kettle with water and bring to a boil.

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

    Fig preserves filled into a canning jar with the screw lid to the side

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  9. 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).

    Canning jars with fig preserves on a wire rack in a boiling water bath canner

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  10. 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.

    Southern fig preserves in sealed canning jars on a wire rack

    The Spruce Eats / Julia Hartbeck

  11. Store in a cool, dark place until ready to enjoy.


  • If your fig variety is very sweet, you can use less sugar.
  • 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 the jars of preserves in the fridge instead of processing, using within 3 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.
  • This recipe makes a large quantity, so you can cut in half or even by one-third.