Mission Figs – Where have you been all of my life?
I went to my local Fresh Market the other day to pick up a banana for hubby’s lunch. I’ve been in the store a few times before, but I was never really impressed since the prices were typically much higher than what I would pay at my local store. As I walked through the doors, however, I spied a table full of packets of fresh Mission figs. Up to this point, I had never seen a fresh fig before. I used to not be a fruit eater, so things like figs and mangoes were only to be found dried or canned in my house. Given my new found love of fruit (there’s 2 packets of blueberries, 1 of blackberries, 1 bag of cherries and 1 packet of strawberries taking up residence in my fridge), I am always on the lookout for what’s in season and new.
The fact that a big packet of figs only cost $1.50 was the clincher.
Ahem. I’ll repeat that price: $1.50. Isn’t that glorious?! Who in their right mind would pass it up? Someone with a stronger will than mine (or no taste ;)).
In fact, I was tempted to buy a few packs since there were so many things I imagined myself making with them, but I restrained myself. Still wondering if that was a good idea. 😐
I love the WHFoods site for really detailed veggie and fruit nutrition info. Here are a few highlights from their page on figs. If you want to read the whole thing, by all means please do. You can find it here.
- Figs have been shown to lower triglycerides – definitely a plus for someone like me who has rather high tri levels
- Figs have a lot of fiber and are a source of calcium
- Figs are a good source of potassium (and in my opinion, a lot tastier than bananas!)
Even if the fig turned out to be the armpit of the fruit group (luckily it isn’t), I couldn’t wait to get online and see what recipes I could try with my new, beautiful, purplish-black figs. I knew that I wanted to make some kind of fig bar, and I also wanted a recipe that highly featured the texture and distinctive sweetness of the fig.
Let’s start with Elise’s Jam recipe.
We’ve been suffering rather intense heat lately, but this didn’t deter me from making jam. I decided on the jam recipe because it looked not only gorgeous and easy, but it also allowed me to mark off one of My 100 goals. I had never made jam, even though my mother makes a strawberry rhubarb jam that’s to die for, and I specially request a jar (or two) every summer (there’s one sitting in my fridge, unopened). I’m not a big canning person, though, so I resisted making something that I feared would be too tedious and too difficult.
Elise’s recipe proved me wrong.
In fact, it was the best way to ease myself into jam making. I now have a few blueberry jam recipes on hand that I want to have a go with, but I have to be careful. I’m the jam eater in the family since hubby is more keen on syrup with his oatmeal so I can’t make too much or else it all might spoil. I have yet to dip my toe into canning but I’m sure I’m only a step away from giving it a try. I almost bought the jars, but I opted for Ball’s Freezer containers instead. 🙂 They’re cute and they don’t require anything fancy. Course, they do limit the amount I can make, but that’s probably a good thing.
I followed her ingredient list exactly, but the one thing I did do differently was to use the stove to cook my jam rather than the microwave. (I found that I didn’t have a microwavable container big enough to hold all of the ingredients.) This wasn’t a problem at all, though, since I only cooked the jam under medium heat for about 20 minutes and it was done! Such a cinch and such a beautiful jam.
If I could bottle the aroma this jam gives off while cooking, I would. It reminded me of Christmas, and I could have cooked a pot every day if it meant smelling the cloves, cinnamon and figs mingling together.
I also gave a go at making Alta’s Fig and Date Bars. They required similar ingredients to the jam so that was a winner and her pics made the bars look so thick and chewy. Unfortunately, I decided to make them with little regard to their special ingredients. The recipe called for Sorghum flour and xanthan gum, both of which I didn’t have. I did some googling for appropriate substitutions with no luck and decided to take the plunge. What harm could it do?
Well, not to much harm, but they definitely don’t look like hers.
Even though they look rather wimpy compared to her bars, they do taste really nice. Slightly grainy due to the all-purpose flour, I think, but still good. Hubby deemed them tasty so that’s a definite plus! I won’t post my adapted recipe here since I’m sure her original is much better. 🙂 Go check it out and give it a try. I just might buy some of the gluten free ingredients just to give them another go in the future.
Spicy Fig Orange Jam
(Note: You can find the original recipe with microwave directions here. My alterations are in red.)
- 1 1/2 cups diced fresh figs (trim stems)
- 1/2 cup seeded, peeled orange, diced
- 1 1/2 cups of sugar (reduce if you want, though it won’t set as well – I went ahead and used the whole amount this time with great success, although I’ll probably swap with some Splenda next time since I wouldn’t mind a slightly “runnier” jam)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice (I used a half a lemon)
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon butter
- Place all ingredients in a big mixing bowl and stir until combined. Let sit for 30 minutes to let flavors and ingredients mingle with the sugar.
- Pour into a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Allow to boil for about 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Check for the right viscosity by seeing how the jam runs off of a spoon. If it seems to firm up a bit as it drips, it’s done.
- Let cool on stove and then pour into containers.