Fig Preserves

Yields about 6 half-pint jars. Recipe is from the 37th edition of the “Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving” from Jarden Home Brands; edited by Judy Harrold. Here’s a serving suggestion that works equally well at the start or close of a memorable dinner. Spread a thick layer of creamy mascarpone cheese over the bottom of a baked puff pastry shell. Drain Fig Preserves, reserving syrup. Cut figs in half lengthwise. Arrange figs over cheese. Sprinkle toasted walnuts over figs. Combine fig syrup and a splash of brandy. Drizzle syrup over figs.

2 quarts figs

1 lemon

2 quarts boiling water

22/3 cups sugar

1 quart water

1. Prep: Wash figs and lemon under cold running water; drain. Pour 2 quarts boiling water over figs. Let stand 15 minutes; drain. Rinse figs under cold water; drain. Cut lemon crosswise into thin slices; remove seeds and discard ends.

2. Cook: Combine sugar, lemon slices and 1 quart water in a large saucepan. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Boil 10 minutes. Skim syrup to remove foam if necessary. Remove lemon slices. Cook figs in syrup one layer at a time over high heat until they are transparent. Remove figs and place in a shallow pan. Boil syrup until it is thick. Pour syrup over figs and let stand in refrigerator 6 to 8 hours Reheat figs syrup to a boil. Remove from heat. Skim off foam if necessary.

3. Fill: Ladle hot preserves into a hot jar, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. (Place a nonmetallic spatula inside the jar between the food and the side of the jar and gently press the spatula against the food to release trapped air.) Clean jar rim. Center lid on jar and adjust band to fingertip-tight. Place jar on the rack elevated over simmering water (180 F) in boiling-water canner. Repeat until all jars are filled.

4. Process: Lower the rack into simmering water. Water must cover jars by 1 inch. Adjust heat to medium-high, cover canner and bring water to a rolling boil. Process half-pint jars 10 minutes. Turn off heat and remove cover. Let jars cool 5 minutes. Remove jars from canner; do not retighten bands if loose. Cool 12 hours. Check seals. Label and store jars.