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Five ways to preserve some of this month's fig crop.

Cooked with sugar or honey, dark figs make ideal preserves. They readily form thick jams, because they have a high pectin content, and they plump up and hold their shape when pickled, glaceed, or preserved in syrup. Lemon juice or vinegar turns their dark skin an attractive reddish purple.

Ripe figs are plump and feel soft, but not squishy, when, gently pressed; medium-ripe fruit feels a little firmer. The fruit should not be split or bruised.

Use preserved figs through the year--or consider giving as gifts. Purple Fig Jam

Serve on toast, pancakes, or crepes; spread between cake layers or over open-face fruit tarts; spoon onto ice cream.

2 pounds (5 to 6 cups) medium-ripe dark figs, stems trimmed and fruit coarsely chopped

2 cups sugar

2/3 cup lemon juice

In a 5- to 6-quart pan, combine figs, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir to blend; set aside at least 30 minutes.

On high heat, bring fib mixture to a boil that cannot be stirred down, stirring occasionally. Continue to boil for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until jam tests done: spoon several drops onto a cold plate and tilt; when drops flow slowly, remove jam from heat.

Process (directions follow) in 1/2- or 1-pint jars. Makes 2 pints.--Beatrice Drago, Santa Monica, Calif. Spiced Fig Conserve Use as you would jam or jelly.

3/4 pound (2 to 2-1/2 cups) medium-ripe dark figs stems trimmed and fruit coarsely chopped

1 pound ripe peaches, peeled and chopped

1 large unpeeled orange, chopped 2-1/2 cups sugar

1/3 cup lemon juice

3/4 cup coarsely chopped walnuts

1/4 teaspoon each ground allspice, ground cinnamon, and ground cloves.

In a 5- to 6-quart pan, combine figs, peaches, orange, sugar, and lemon juice. Stir to blend; set aside at least 30 minutes.

Bring fig mixture to a boil on high heat. When boiling jam cannot be stirred down, add walnuts, allspice, cinnamon, and cloves. Continue to boil for about 12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until jam tests done: spoon several drops onto a cold plate and tilt; when drops flow slowly, remove jam from heat.

Process (directions follow) in 1/2- or 1-pint jars. Makes 2 pints.--Dorothy K. Spidell, Mission Viejo, Calif. Sweet Pickled Figs

Pickled figs are a sweet-tart accompaniment to meats such as duck, goose, ham, lamb, or salami.

6 pounds (about 4-1/2 qts.) ripe, dark figs, stems trimmed

1 cup each water and white distilled vinegar

4 cups sugar

1/2 teaspoon each whole cloves and ground nutmeg

4 thin slices fresh ginger, each about 1 inch diameter

In a 6- to 8-quart pan, bring to a boil figs, water, vinegar, sugar, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

Process (directions follow) using 1-pint jars. Makes 7 to 8 pints.--Mrs. Edward Soares, Palo Alto, Calif.

How to process. Immerse canning jars, new lids, and bands in boiling water to cover. Simmer for 15 minutes, then drain on a towel. Ladle hot preserves into jars, filling to 1/4 inch from rim. Wipe rims clean. Lift lids from hot water and put on jars; screw on rings tightly. Place jars on a rack in a canning kettle or other deep kettle half-filled with boiling water. Add boiling water to cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Simmer 10 minutes. Lift jars from water; set on a towel to cool.

If lid stays down when pressed in center, the seal is good. Keep unsealed preserves in refrigerator. Glaceed Figs and Fig Syrup

These sun-dried figs are first saturated with syrup through slow cooking--a two-day process. Reserve the syrup to serve with ice cream or waffles.

8 cups sugar

8 cups water

4 pounds (about 3 qts.) ripe, dark figs, stems trimmed

1/3 cup lemon juice

In a 6- to 8-quart pan, blend sugar and water; bring to a boil. Add figs and return syrup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, until figs wrinkle and cave in slightly, about 2 hours. Push figs down into syrup occasionally.

Let mixture stand at room temperature overnight. The next day, boil gently, uncovered, until syrup is reduced to 4-1/2 to 5 cups (drain off syrup to measure), about 2 hours.

Let mixture stand at room temperature overnight. Lift figs from syrup with a slotted spoon, draining; reserve syrup.

Place figs on a rack in two 10- by 15-inch pans (or line pans with cheesecloth). Cover pans snugly with 1 layer of cheesecloth to keep out bugs, and set in the sun to dry; bring inside each day at sunset. Figs are dry when they feel slightly tacky but no longer sticky, 3 to 5 days. Store in paper bags (in airtight containers, the figs get sticky) for up to 10 months. When thoroughly dry to touch, you can repackage figs in airtight containers such as metal tins to present them as gifts. Makes about 2 quarts.

Add lemon juice to the reserved syrup. Pour into a bottle, cover, and store in the refrigerator for up to 1 year. Makes 1 quart.--Donna Sand, Bellingham, Wash. Honeyed Figs

Sweet, moist, and sticky, honeyed figs go well with smoked or cured meats, pork, duck, or ice cream.

1 cup honey

1/3 cup port

1 pound (3 to 3-1/2 cups) ripe, dark figs, stems trimmed

1/3 cup lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon vanilla

In a 5- to 6-quart pan, bring honey and port to a boil. Add figs; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in lemon juice and boil gently, uncovered, until sauce is reduced to 3/4 to 2/3 cup (let bubbles subside, then drain off syrup to measure), about 30 minutes. Stir in vanilla. Let figs stand in syrup at room temperature overnight.

The next day, gently blend syrup to equalize any variation in consistency, taking care not to break up figs. Use; or pour into container, cover, and chill as long as 2 months. Makes 1 pint.
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Title Annotation:recipes
Publication:Sunset
Date:Sep 1, 1984
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