There is nothing like the unique taste and texture of fresh figs. They are lusciously sweet with a texture that combines the chewiness of their flesh, the smoothness of their skin, and the crunchiness of their seeds. A fresh fig tastes like a mix of a peach and a strawberry. Unfortunately, fresh figs are one of the most perishable fruits and have a very short harvesting season. As a result, figs should be purchased only a day or two in advance of when you are planning on eating them. Once the season is done you have to wait until next year unless, of course, you preserve them in some fashion. Well, this is one of my ways for preserving figs.
We love figs, especially fresh figs. We like figs just by themselves.
We like figs in sandwiches like Sourdough Prosciutto Panini with Fresh Figs and Brie Cheese. Figs also work great with seafood, like Seared Ancho Crusted Tuna with Fig Lime Glaze, Jalapeños & Cilantro. Figs are great with a cheese plate and a wonderful port wine. They are incredibly versatile in their usage. Not surprisingly, they have been around for a very long time.
Figs are believed to have originated in Asia Minor and the Mediterranean region and have been traced back to as early as 5,000 BC. The fig tree was first introduced to the Americas in 1575 by Spanish explorers in Florida. On the West Coast, Spanish Franciscan missionaries introduced the Mission cultivar in 1769. There are hundreds of fig varieties but the following are most commonly found in U.S. farms and markets. Brown Turkish Figs have brownish / copper-colored skin, often with hints of purple, and mostly pink/red flesh with some white flesh. This variety is used exclusively for the fresh fig market. Celeste figs are about the size of an egg, a purplish-brown when ripe, with a dark, sweet, moist, purple flesh inside. The Calimyrna Fig is known for its nut-like flavor and golden skin. This type is commonly eaten as is. The Mission Fig is a deep purple which darkens to a rich black when dried. It is commonly called “black mission figs” and is what I used in this recipe. The Kadota Fig is the American version of the original Italian Dattato fig. It is practically seedless with a thick skin and a creamy amber color when ripe. This fig is often canned and dried.
Regardless of the variety of fig you prefer, as stated above, the season is very short and figs do not keep well. So you have to preserve them if you choose to enjoy them throughout the year. This recipe is for brandied figs. It is sweet with a hint of licorice and cinnamon, perfect for dessert or simply to snack on with a glass of wine. Try this and let us know what you think. I’m sure there is a follow up post coming on how to use these beauties but that is for another day. ;)
- 1.75 lbs fresh figs
- 1 cup bottled water
- 2/3 cups sugar
- 2 star anise
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 1 cup decent brandy (you’re adding sugar and cinnamon so don’t waste good brandy but don’t use the cheapest available either)
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and sterilize 3 pint jars and lids.
While jars and lids are being sterilized, cut figs in half lengthwise.
Mix the water, brandy, sugar in a small pot. Add the star anise and cinnamon.
Heat to a dissolve the sugar and simmer 5 minutes.
Once sterilized, remove jars and lids from water and allow to cool. Keep water boiling. When cooled, place the figs into the jars leaving enough room for 1/3 inch headspace.
Pour brandy mixture over top of figs leaving 1/3 inch headspace and tighten the lids tightly.
Process figs in boiling water for 15 minutes. Begin timer after water returns to a boil. At the end of 15 minutes remove the jars from the water and place on a rack to cool. Viola! Brandied figs for anything your heart desires.