orange-scented fig jam

My mother wasn’t enthusiastic about cooking when I was a kid. I always had the sense that it was just another one of her chores that she had to accomplish before night fell. The fact that cooking ended up in dirty dishes that she would then have to hand wash and dry only made it worse.

We didn’t have a dishwasher back then. We also didn’t have a clothes dryer, air conditioning, or central heat. We lived in a drafty early-1900s farmhouse with one bathroom with a clawfoot tub, a small kitchen, but with acres of outdoor space for my brother and me to explore for hours on end.

Beside my father’s studio, just to the west of the house, was an old grapevine with gnarly roots that produced gallons of muscadine grapes every summer. My brother and I played underneath that grapevine, a shady and cool vine-covered cave. When the grapes ripened, turning a purple so dark it was almost black, we harvested them for our mom to make jelly with. I recall my mother standing at the electric stove, stirring a pot of hot grapes, and straining the sweet purple liquid through cheesecloth into hot glass jelly jars. Her recollection is of sweating in the stifling heat, of working over a hot stove with the kitchen windows thrown open, but barely a breeze coming through.

A colleague at work brought me a huge bucket of brown turkey figs from his 16-year old fig tree. Thinking back to those years that my mom was into canning her own grape jelly, I decided to give it a try myself with the figs. After eating a pound or two of fresh figs, I turned the remaining four pounds of soft, ripe figs into eight jars of gorgeous jam.

I was inspired by this recipe for Drunken Fig Jam in Bon AppΓ©tit. The flavor profile of the figs seemed to go nicely with oranges, so I swapped out the lemon the original recipe called for with some juice and zest of a navel orange. A small amount of Cointreau and a dash of cinnamon rounded out the depth of the preserved figs, giving a the jam a full-bodied flavor.

This jam, with soft bits of fig in each spoonful, served with crackers and small wedge of brie has become my new favorite snack. And, wrong or right, I’m hoarding those jars.


Yield: approx 8 1/2 pint jars

Orange-Scented Fig Jam


4 pounds ripe figs, stemmed, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
Zest of 1 large orange
2 tablespoons fresh orange juice
4 cups sugar
1/3 cup Cointreau
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


Combine figs, orange zest, orange juice, sugar, Cointreau, cinnamon, and salt in a large heavy saucepan (or dutch oven); let stand at room temperature for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Bring fig mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to medium and continue to boil, stirring frequently and occasionally mashing larger fig pieces, until the jam thickens and is reduced to approximately 6 cups, 30-35 minutes. Remove from heat.

Ladle mixture into 6 hot sterilized 1/2 pint glass canning jars, leaving 1/4 inch space at top of jars. Remove any air bubbles. Wipe jar threads and rims with a clean damp kitchen towel. Cover with hot lids and apply screw bands. Process jars in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove jars carefully to cool on a kitchen towel. Cool jars completely and store in a cool dark place for up to one year.

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23 Responses to “orange-scented fig jam”

  1. 1
    tami — July 14, 2011 @ 10:38 am

    I’m gonna need you to send me some of this, k? πŸ™‚ What a lovely post, dear. xoxo

  2. 2

    How can you not like this jam??? I made a fig/balsamic jam last year and it blew everyone away. Now this pairing is just bursting with flavor and the booze… how can you go wrong with adding booze!

  3. 3
    With Style and Grace — July 14, 2011 @ 11:00 am

    Love the combination of figs and a hint of orange! Great photos – makes me want to eat your cracker bites πŸ™‚

  4. 4
    Maggie at Eat Boutique — July 14, 2011 @ 11:11 am

    Beautiful. I need figs right now, lady, so I can whip this up. You know how I like my booze in… anything. πŸ™‚

  5. 5
    Nelly Rodriguez — July 14, 2011 @ 11:11 am

    oh this jam looks delicious! love the “orange scented” part, so evoking! Only thing I can’t agree with? Those Triscuits. I am on #WheatThinsTeam πŸ˜‰ but due to the fact that jam looks amazing, I’ll let it slide!

  6. 6
    Junia @ Mis Pensamientos — July 14, 2011 @ 11:11 am

    i love fig jam. in spain, they eat it with manchego cheese + crostini bread!!

  7. 7
    Sanjeeta kk — July 14, 2011 @ 11:16 am

    What lovely color and love those fig seeds in the jam. I like the orange tang in it.

  8. 8
    Jamie — July 14, 2011 @ 11:16 am

    Love the touch of orange! Oh I am now imaging your mom as mine – she hated cooking although she seemed to prefer hand washing and drying the dishes even to cooking. But no washer either? Wow! The jam looks absolutely heavenly!

  9. 9

    Sounds lovely. Now that I’m past thinking that everything fig would taste like those horrid fig newtons of my youth; I can’t seem to get enough of them. Orange sounds perfect…better than the original!

  10. 10
    Isabelle @ Crumb — July 14, 2011 @ 11:41 am

    Mmmm.. fig jam is a favourite of mine, both with and without cheese. I can just imagine how wonderful it must be with a hint of orange and cinnamon (…and a whole 1/3 cup of Cointreau? Be still my heart!).
    Too bad I don’t have any colleagues who can bring me baskets of figs. Sigh.

  11. 11
    Paula — July 14, 2011 @ 12:14 pm

    A beautiful few moments down the memory lane of your youth and a delicious looking jam. Thank you πŸ™‚

  12. 12
    DessertForTwo — July 14, 2011 @ 1:16 pm

    Such a lovely, lovely post. I loved hearing about the house you grew up in.

    Your mom’s feelings about cooking reminds me of my grandparent’s generation–while we remember their homemade ‘everything,’ they welcomed canned & ready-made products with open arms. Cooking sure can be a chore sometimes. We do it because we have a passion for it, but I imagine not everyone felt that way back then. Actually, few people probably felt the way we feel about food back then. The last thing my grandmother cooked for me before she passed was homemade fried chicken. She opened up a can of green beans to serve with it, and I swear those canned beans were so darling in her eyes. If not merely because she did not have to can them herself.

    I once made a raw dessert (ick) with figs and orange and it was lovely. I can imagine the flavor combo would be great in a jam!

    P.S. I want that photo of the basket of figs on my kitchen wall. Do you sell? πŸ™‚

  13. 13
    LiztheChef — July 14, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

    I have made Cathy Barrow’s fig jam – next batch I’m adding the oj and Cointreau – great idea!

  14. 14
    Aggie — July 14, 2011 @ 3:35 pm

    Figs remind me of my grandfather. He had so many trees in his backyard, up in NY and down here in FL. Since he moved in his new house he has just a little tree…and I’m really missing the figs. Your pictures are making me wish I had a spoon and some brie!!

  15. 15
    jaclyn — July 14, 2011 @ 6:33 pm

    want to know something shameful? i haven’t had figs since i first tried them as a very picky eight year old. i didn’t like them back then, but i think it’s time to give them another chance!

    brie is one of the few cheeses i actually like (i know, i’m a weirdo!), so this combination sounds so lovely!

  16. 16
    Snippets of Thyme — July 14, 2011 @ 8:45 pm

    That looks really good. Really.really.good. Whenever I see fig jam, I snatch up a jar without hesitation. I should try to make my own. I haven’t seen figs, though, around here yet. I wonder if they grown in Texas in the summer? I’m going to the farmer’s market this Saturday and I’m going to keep my fig eyes open.

  17. 17
    Winnie — July 14, 2011 @ 10:48 pm

    Fantastic MJ. Dying to make this recipe now πŸ™‚

  18. 18
    sweetsugarbelle — July 15, 2011 @ 4:53 am

    The moment you said fig you had my attention. I LOVE FIGS! LOVE them. They are my favorite fruit. I’m actually very envious of your neighbor’s fig tree! I buy fig preserves regularly, but this is on my list to try. I am working up canning nerve. Reading about all of the fun summer canned goods has really piqued my interest! This was TRULY a gorgeous post. Thank you!

  19. 19
    chinmayie @ love food eat — July 15, 2011 @ 11:56 pm

    Gorgeous looking jam! I love fig! i wish i had a friend who gave me a huge bucket of figs! If I ever get more figs that I can eat I shall try your recipe πŸ™‚

  20. 20
    Shellina Guthrie — July 17, 2011 @ 3:37 pm

    Love this idea. I’ve never canned anything- I might need to try it.

  21. 21

    What a lovely post. I have never canned anything, but I’ve been thinking about trying some jam! This jam is absolutely gorgeous!

  22. 22
    Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — July 20, 2011 @ 9:18 pm

    Lovely… The flavors in this jam sound amazing. Really loved reading your post, too… Beautifully written.

  23. 23
    Ashley — July 23, 2011 @ 12:37 pm

    Inspired by your post I have a pot of fig and plum preserves simmering away. Thank you!

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