Fig, green apple and blackberry

Meyer lemon is the unsung hero of so much jam and it barely warrants a mention in this recipe either. Sorry, Meyer lemon. You’re so indispensable and delicious you rank about the same as sugar and water when titling jam.

Here’s another batch that comes from the kindness of neighbors. On Saturday a friend mentioned the garden at his photography studio had trees and trees of large plums I might be interested in — oh, and a fig tree at the back of the lot. I went for plums but secretly hoped to get a good haul of figs too. Even better, they were Black Missions — soft, succulent teardrops hidden in the branches of a tree that had to be at least 30 feet high.

I felt almost cruel tugging at the figs with my fruit picker. The extensible pole was at maximum length and I was waving it around, more hopeful than careful, pushing aside branches and looking for flashes of dark purple brown behind the leaves. The sun was late afternoon-bright and blinded me and my picker pole. I squashed probably two-thirds of the figs I pulled down. No matter, though — that just guaranteed a quickly executed recipe (or experiment) once I got home.

This batch uses little sugar; the figs are sweet enough. I added blackberries from overhanging branches of my neighbor’s mass of vines — which I’d been cursing until the berries showed up. The green apples — unripe — came from my own tree. I have no idea what variety they are. They’re squat, ripen with a sweep of blush-colored stripes, and are mealy if not pick firm and eaten fast.

Conservatively top and tail 740 g Black Mission figs to yield 690g/just over 1.8 lb fruit. Chop the figs into eighths and tip into a large glass or ceramic bowl with 110g (3.75 oz) fresh blackberries.

Macerate with 9 oz sugar overnight. A day later, scrape figs, berries, sugar and any accumulated syrup into a preserving pan. Stir in the juice of one large Meyer lemon and 75ml water.

Peel and finely chop as many apples as will yield around 225g/8 oz fruit and add to the fig mixture (I’m winging it here; I forgot to weigh the prepared fruit and started with 285g/10 oz gross.).

Bring to a boil and cook about 25 minutes or until syrup gives a very gentle wrinkle set, syrup no longer pools in the bottom of the pan and the fruit has thickened into an evenly distributed mass. Stir regularly as the mixture thickens

Ladled hot jam into hot jars, seal and can 10 minutes in boiling water bath.


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