Last One…for Now
I was looking at the top shelf of my cupboard just a minute ago and shaking my head in partial disbelief and partial smugness. On that top shelf is the oddest assortment of small batch jams and jellies I’ve ever had to date. This growing season kept affording me opportunities to make these preserves that were just too good to pass up, and yet, now, I’m a bit shocked at what I have. Pity the fool that wishes to have something so commonplace as raspberry or grape jelly at my house.
Still, all the recipes I tried and fiddled with this year for preserves proved very successful; thus my teeny bit of smugness. I have Ground Cherry Chamomile Jam, Apple Rhubarb Jam…and now Spiced Fig and Pear Preserves (jam really, but “preserves” sounded fancier). Originally, I really wanted to try the recipe my Portuguese pen pal sent me (thank you, A!), but alas my fig supply was severely dwindling by the time I got around to this jam-making session. I mulled it over and realized I had a lot of pears I’d plucked from the ancient pear tree at my childhood home. Thinking they would mingle well with the figs, I chopped them up and threw them in to bulk up my fruit pulp for this preserves project.
This is the part where I have to take a moment to sing the praises of Elise at Simply Recipes. She always has just the thing to guide my culinary experiments. If I’ve dreamed it up, chances are Elise did too and already tried it so I can learn from her experiences. Not only did she have a recipe for a fig-comingled-with-another-fruit preserve, but she also used the microwave and made jam-making the simplest venture in the world so even newbie cooks can fearlessly tackle their abundance of fruit and force it into jellied submission. Hurrah for microwave jams!*
I really love the flavor of this jam, and the color is so rich and inviting. As suspected, pears and figs are superb when paired together. My one itty-bitty complaint – although as someone who loves pears, I really don’t have the right to complain – is that the texture is just a bit gritty. Next year, when the much-anticipated fig season comes around again, I’ll give this recipe another go with a somewhat higher fig to pear ratio (as is reflected in the recipe below). Adding more figs should smooth out the texture a good bit.
For now though, this is my last jam recipe for 2008, if only because all local fruit sources have dried up, and I have nothing left to play with here in December. That’s okay though as I can now happily busy myself with the task of eating all the jams I’ve put up on my top cupboard shelf.
* As with any jam-making process, be sure to use the biggest possible container when making your microwave jam. Learn from my foolhardy mistakes and don’t let sticky boiling over happen to you!
Spiced Fig and Pear Preserve
Adapted from Simply Recipes
¾ C. fresh figs, quarterd
½ C. ripe pear, peeled and cubed
¾ C. sugar, vanilla or regular white granular
1 lemon, zested and juiced
Nutmeg to taste
Cinnamon to taste
Ground ginger to taste
½ t. butter
Place all ingredients in a large microwave safe bowl (don’t skimp on the bowl size as the contents are going to expand greatly while cooking), stir to combine and let sit for at least 30 minutes to allow the fruit to macerate in the sugar.
Put a small plate in the freezer. Place the fruit mixture in microwave and cook on high for 5 minutes. Stir well and return to the microwave. Continue cooking for another 3 minutes and stir again. The mixture should be thickening. If it’s not, repeat cooking and stirring at 3 minute intervals until it does.
At about 10 minutes, the mixture should be tested by placing a small bit on the plate from the freezer. If it sets up after a minute, you’re done. If it is runny, cook it a couple minutes more.
Pour out the jam into a jelly jar with a lid and store in the fridge. It will keep for several months, although you’ll probably eat it long before that.
(makes 6-8 oz)