Southern Fig Preserves

Southern Fig Preserves recipe, fig preserves in a glass jar, fig preserves on white bread

The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

Prep: 15 mins
Cook: 3 hrs
Stand Time: 12 hrs
Total: 15 hrs 15 mins
Servings: 36 servings
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
362 Calories
0g Fat
94g Carbs
1g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 36
Amount per serving
Calories 362
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 2mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 94g 34%
Dietary Fiber 3g 11%
Total Sugars 90g
Protein 1g
Vitamin C 17mg 87%
Calcium 34mg 3%
Iron 0mg 3%
Potassium 233mg 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.


  • 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.

    Southern Fig Preserves ingredients, bowl of fresh figs, sugar, lemons

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  2. Wash, dry, and stem the figs.

    washed figs with stems removed on a white cutting board, knife with a wooden handle

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

  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. 

    fresh figs and sugar in a large pot

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

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

    cooking figs and sugar in a large pot

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

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

    boiling figs and sugar in a large pot, thermometer in pot

    The Spruce / Julia Hartbeck

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

    pot and glass jars with lids

    The Spruce / 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 in a glass jar

    The Spruce / 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).

    fig preserve jars on a wire rack in a boiling water canner

    The Spruce / 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.

    canned Southern Fig Preserves in glass jars

    The Spruce / 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.