My delicious home-made fig jam is perfect spread on toast, crumpets or tea cakes. This quick and easy small-batch fig jam recipe yields two jars of the gorgeous conserve with no added pectin.
Easy fig jam
Fig jam is one of my favourite jams – rich and intense, almost honeyed in flavour. This French favourite is delicious on toast, mixed into yogurt for breakfast, and equally good served with a strong blue cheese.
Figs from the supermarket can be expensive, so keep and eye out for yellow sticker bargains, or buy a tray at the end of the day from the market when prices are reduced. You may be lucky enough to have a friend with a fig tree who is willing to trade fruit for a pot of the finished jam.
Fig jam was once a treat that you never saw in the supermarket and it is still firmly in the premium section, so it is well worth making your own. It’s very easy, so give it a try.
What about pectin?
This fig jam recipe doesn’t use any pectin. The natural pectin in the fruit along with the lemon juice sets it very well.
Jam and conserve
To make jam, the fruit is chopped and then cooked before the sugar is added. This is necessary for fruit that needs to be cooked for longer.
When making a conserve, you cover the raw fruit in sugar and leave it to draw out the juices. You then cook the mixture, bringing it up to the setting point. In this way, you keep the cooking time short, preserving all the flavour of the fruit. You also keep the shape of the fruit pieces. This fig jam recipe uses the conserve method.
Fig Jam Ingredients
- Figs – If in doubt choose slightly under ripe fruit here. Jam is ideal to use up any misshapen or blemished fruit.
- Sugar – Regular white granulated sugar – cane or beet – it doesn’t matter
Easy fig jam recipe – Step by Step
Step one – Wash the figs, cut off the stalks and cut into small pieces. Discard any blemishes on the skin and and flesh that is starting to spoil.
Step two – Put the cut up figs into a bowl and cover with the sugar. Cover and leave overnight.
Fuss Free Tip
If you have a glut of figs to use, but no time to make jam, add about half the sugar and freeze. Make a note of the weights used.
The sugar will draw out the fig juice and make a thick syrup. There will still be some solid sugar at the bottom of the bowl.
Step three – Sterilize clean jam jars and lids by putting them on a baking tray in the oven at 120°C/250°F/GM1.
Step four – Transfer the fig and sugar mixture to a large saucepan or preserving pan. Simmer gently on a low heat until all the sugar is dissolved. This will take about 10 minutes depending on the size of your pan, and the ripeness and variety of the figs.
Step five – Once the sugar has dissolved add the lemon juice, and heat the mixture quickly to a rolling boil.
Step six Once the jam has been on a rolling boil for about 10 minutes start checking for set. See detailed notes on setting point below.
Step seven – Let the fig jam cool for another ten minutes (to about 80°C) before you transfer it into the jars. This allows it to cool and thicken, which helps stop all the pieces of fruit rising to the top. This is important, as you want your final jam will have the fruit evenly distributed in the jar.
I ladle my jam into a toughened glass jug and pour into the jars through a jam funnel, which helps to avoid mess.
Stand the jars in a baking tray just in case one shatters when you pour the jam in. This has only ever happened to me twice, and I have been making a lot of jam for many years.
Seal the lids while the jam is still hot. As it cools, you’ll hear the lids pop as the vacuum forms.
Checking the Set
- The most obvious way is to check using a thermometer. The jam should reach 105°C/221°F. Once there, you know that it should be ready. I recommend that you use temperature as a guide. Thermometers can be inaccurate and a pan of boiling preserve has hot spots. Make sure you check using one of the other methods too.
- The traditional for jam set uses chilled plate. Before you start, put a small plate in the freezer to chill. Once the jam is boiling, start testing by putting a little jam on the plate. Allow it to cool, so that you don’t burn yourself. Then push it with your finger. When you push your finger through, look for a wrinkle in the jam. Once you can see this, the fig jam is ready.
- Finally, you can test for the set by checking the way that your jam runs off a spoon. Take a little from the pan in a spoon and turn it vertically so that the jam falls. If it all runs back into the pan, it won’t set. If, however, a little remains on the spoon in a sort of wide drip that doesn’t fall, your jam is ready to set.
It may take a little practice to recognise a good set. The advantage of small batches is that by making your jam little and often, you learn to recognise when the jam is done and will be able to see when it is ready by its appearance.
- For more detailed notes on jam setting points, see my blackberry and apply jelly recipe.
With time you will be able to gauge setting point from the appearance, and sound, of the simmering jam.
If you are in doubt pot the jam – it is easier to remedy a soft set jam than an overset one.
How to check your jars have sealed
It is vital that you check your jars have sealed . You should have heard the little pops as the lid of each one was sucked in as the jam cooled.
Leave the jars out for 24 hours, and press the centre of each one. If the centre of the lid stays put it is sealed, and the jar can by put away.
If the centre of the lid pops up when released, it hasn’t sealed properly. Should this happen, you can open the jars and re-boil the jam. If just one jar is affected, put it in the fridge and eat it immediately.
Hints, tips and variations
One of the reasons we love small batch preserving is that you can experiment with the recipe.
- Add a splash of balsamic vinegar
- Add a cinnamon stick whilst the sugar is drawing out the juices, and remove it before cooking.
- Use a few cardamon pods (again, let them soak in the sugar and juice but remove before cooking).
- Add a dash of vanilla extract.
- Add some finely grated orange zest to the fig and sugar mix.
- If your set is too soft, then depending on how much you have, you can boil it again. Alternatively, you can leave it for several months as it will become thicker in the jar.
- If the set is too firm, but you are happy with the flavour, you can reboil it with a little added water. However, this is a risk because it is easy to caramelise the sugar: There are other ways to use over set jam, so try these:
- Add some water to thin it, heat and serve as a sauce. It’s good on ice cream or pancakes.
- Melt the jam and whisk together with vinegar and barbecue sauce for a fruity glaze or marinade.
- Beat it into buttercream for a delicious sweet frosting.
- If the jam has started to caramelise, you probably can’t rescue it so just throw it away.
- My jam has gone mouldy! This can happen for several reasons. It is possible that the jar didn’t seal properly, you didn’t sterilise the jars, or you used bruised or damaged fruit. Whatever the cause, you should throw the jam away, because the mould goes far beneath the surface.
How long does fig jam last?
If you have made the jam properly with quality fruit, and the lid has sealed properly, your jam should last for years stored in a cool dark cupboard. It will thicken and darken over time.
Once opened I store jam in the fridge; this is largely due to a lack of cupboard space, and that we have several pots of jam and jelly on the go at once. Homemade jam will be fine in a cupboard for 4 weeks after opening.
More jam recipes
If you enjoyed this fig jam recipe, why not try more small-batch preserving?
Easy Fig Jam
- 600 g figs
- 600 g sugar
- 3 tbsp lemon juice (Riper fruit needs more lemon, firmer fruit needs less. )
- Trim the stalks off the figs, then cut in half. Cut each half into 8 or so pieces.
- Put half the figs into a bowl and cover with the sugar.
- Cover and leave overnight. The sugar will draw the juice out of the figs making a syrup. There will be some sugar at the bottom of the bowl left not dissolved.
- Transfer the fig and sugar mixture to a good sized saucepan (about 4 volume of the fig and sugar mixture), add the lemon juice.
- Put on a low heat and bring to a gentle simmer, stirring all the time to dissolve the remaining sugar. Meanwhile sterilize clean jam jars and lids by placing them on a baking tray in the oven at 120°C/250°F/GM1.
- Once the sugar has dissolved add the lemon juice, turn the heat up high and bring the jam up to a rolling boil until it reaches the setting point of 105°C.
- Test for set by placing a teaspoonful of jam onto a chilled plate, or use one of the other methods for testing the set.
- Once the jam has reached setting point, take the pan off the heat and allow to cool for about 10 minutes and thicken to make sure the fruit is evenly distributed throughout the pot
- Transfer the jam to the sterilized and warmed jars. I find the easiest way to do this is to pour from a Pyrex (or similar toughened) glass jug, using a jam funnel.
- Put the lids on the jars and twist tight, when the jam is still hot.
- Once the jam is cool, check the jars have sealed. When you press the centre of the lid it won't pop up.
- This recipe is 1 Weight Watchers Smart Points per portion
Update Notes fig jam first published in September 2007. Updated March 2021 with updated method, hints, tips and new images.