(Mama Doris' Canned Figs)
There is no better preserve than home canned figs.
I grew up eating my mama's canned figs. The figs were always picked
fresh and canned that day. My mama has supplied me with home canned
figs all my life (am I spoiled or what!). The figs were always picked
from fig trees on the home place. The fig trees are older than I
am. The trees are probably the cultivar Celeste (paradisenursery.com),
which is the most common fig you'll find in home yards throughout the south.
is a very sweet fig and is excellent for canning
A couple of years ago I began facing a life changing
problem. Mama's fig trees are finally getting too old and do not
yield many figs, and my mama is not up to canning figs any more (gosh,
at 88 years of age, its about time she takes a break). Luckily, two
years ago Mrs. Ellamae Lege came to the rescue. Her husband, Mr.
John, comes fishing at a lake by our house, and as thanks Mrs. Ellamae
brought us a batch of home canned fig preserves (she always brings something
from her garden). And last year she brought a bucket of fresh picked
figs. So my wife and I decided to try canning our own figs.
Well, I called mama and asked her for her recipe and how she canned figs.
I had observed her canning all my life, but my job was only to screw the
lids down tight at the end. As it turns out, canning figs is pretty
darn simple. Also, I'm preparing for the future. Last summer
(2001), I air layered my mama's fig tree at the home place, and planted
it in a prime location in my yard in College Station. So in a few
years I'll be back in the fig picking business again.
the fig to sugar ratio is:
16 cups (1 gal) fresh figs, washed and destined
8 cups (about 4 lb) sugar
6-7 pint canning jars, with sealing lids and rings
1 part figs to 1/2 part sugar (volume/volume)
adjust the recipe to the amount of figs you
now this is something I have a lot of experience at; I may not have canned
figs until recently, but I sure spend a lot of time as a kid picking them
pick the figs that are soft and when the end of the fig is just starting
do not pick figs that are too soft or smell sour
the figs must be picked daily when the trees are bearing
do not pick figs after a heavy rain; if you expect a rain, get out and
pick them before it rains
fresh picked figs
|Wash and De-Stem Figs:
wash the freshly picked figs.
remove the stems (some leave the stems on, but who wants to remove them
at the table)
either can immediately, or store for no more than a day in the refrigerator
de-stem and wash figs
add 8 cups (about 4 lb) sugar to a large thick walled pot
stir in just enough water to dissolve the sugar, about 1 1/2 to 2
stir and bring to a boil for a couple of minutes until clear
add 16 cups (1 gal) washed, de-stemmed figs
the fig to sugar ratio is 1 part fig to 1/2 part sugar by volume;
adjust the recipe based on the volume of figs you have to can.
cook over low heat to maintain a slow boil
stir occasionally, but not so vigorously to mash the figs too much
do not cook over too high a heat or the figs will stick and burn
cook until syrupy and the figs are a light brown, about 2-3 hours
I like my figs mashed a bit, so I mash them lightly at the end; some
like to keep them as whole as possible - do what ever "floats your boat"
slow boil fig/sugar mixture
the figs are ready to can
when the mixture is syrupy
and the figs are light brown
|Prepare canning jars
clean pint and/or quart canning jars, rings and lids
it's a good idea to boil the jars, rings and lids to sterilize
Makes 6-7 pints of canned figs
fill the canning jars with the hot fig/syrup mixture to about a 1/4 to
1/2 inch from the top of the jar
wipe the top of the jar to assure there is no fig/syrup around the top
rim of the jar
place the lid on the top of the jar, and screw down the ring finger tight;
if you screw the lid down too tight, then air cannot escape during
in the next step and you may not get a good seal upon cooling
immerse the jars in a boiling water bath, and boil for 30 minutes
remove the jars from the bath and tighten down the ring
set the jars aside and allow to cool; as they cool you will hear the lids
pop when they seal
after the jars are cooled, check that all the lids have popped inward
do not store any jars whose lids do not seal
after the jars have cooled and sealed, you can remove the ring; any
with a loose lid that did not seal should be refrigerated and eaten
label and date the jars
pH, Acidity, Water Activity and Food Safety
My food science buddy Al tells me you want canned fruit to have an
acid pH of 4.6 or less to prevent anaerobic food poisoning bacteria from
growing . Figs are not very acid and have a pH of 4.9-5.0.
For this reason some recipes call for a teaspoon or so of lemon juice in
each jar before canning to make sure the pH is low enough. However,
my mother never added lemon juice, and we all survived. Another option
is to pressure cook the figs as one would low acid vegetables, but who
wants to do that! So my buddy Al tested some of my canned figs and
said they are safe because the sugar content is high enough to decrease
the "water activity" enough so that the pathenogic bacteria cannot grow.
You should decide if you want to be extra safe and add lemon juice.
Personally, I'll just stick to my mama's high sugar recipe. For more
detail to make your decision go to Canning
Foods At Home.
ladle hot figs into jars
seal and lightly boil in
water bath for 30 minutes
remove from water bath and
check that lids seal and
inward after cooling
label and date