Tuesday, August 26, 2008

month of figs


It's fig season. Our tree grew quite a lot this year, and all the new growth is covered in beautiful little figs. I'm enjoying eating them and sharing them.

As you might already know, we've lived in this house for almost two years, and we inherited the fig tree along with it. Before us, the house was owned by the first owners, who had been here since the early 1950's. A few months ago, we came home to find this little note on our door:

"My name is L.B.
My friend live here
and died here.
If you have any
figs for sale, Please
call me I will
take as many as you
don't need, ask for
Robin. Thanks."

Since then we've been really curious about this lady with her morbidly endearing note, who clearly loved our figs in past years, and wanted to keep her connection to her old friends. All summer HWWLLB has been asking when the figs would be ready, and reminding me to call her.

Finally, we have plenty of ripe figs, so I called her and she came by yesterday to get a bagful. She had fun looking around the house and the garden, and told us stories about her dear (departed) friends, for whom she made fig jam every year for many years.

I tried my hand at making fig jam for the first time this year, too. Now fig jam on homemade bread with cream cheese is my most favorite afternoon snack.

fig jam

Here's the recipe I used, from Deborah Madison's wonderful cookbook, the Savory Way:
fig jam with cardamom and rose water
makes 2 cups

2 pounds figs
1 1/2 cups sugar (I used about 2/3 of this amount)
1/3 cup rose water
1 tsp finely ground cardamom seeds

Remove those skins that come off easily and leave the rest on. Chop the figs roughly, then stir in the sugar, half the rose water, and the cardamom. Cover and allow to sit overnight. If it's hot and the figs are over-ripe, put them in the refrigerator to keep them from turning.

The next day, put them in a stainless-steel or other non-corroding saucepan and slowly bring to a boil. Lower the heat and cook slowly for about 1 1/2 hours. As the jam begins to cook, check the bottom of the pot and make sure that all the sugar is broken up and dissolved; then stir occasionally as it cooks. When it has thickened, remove from the heat and add the rest of the rose water. Turn into sterilized canning jars; then immerse in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.

Find some more tasty fig recipes at Chocolate and Zuchinni - yum!


  1. Oh, man. Cardamom and rosewater?! Fantastic!

    You get extra sweet karma points for sharing with a stranger/friend of the tree.

    There is a spa down the street that uses whole fig branches as dramatic floral arrangements. At Christmas when the tree is pruned down to nubbins the owner coats the branches with lights and it's lovely.


  2. beautiful figs and such a nice story. i'm so glad you called. i just checked out the savory way today from the library. so neat to see it pop up in your post. hope you are well! xo

  3. I love that your tree has a history.

    We picked up some really ripe figs at the farmer's market the other day and had an impromptu spinach salad with blue cheese, bacon, onion, and a lemon mustard vinagrette. Super yummy. The Cabernet franc that we had with it didn't hurt, either.

  4. That fig jam looks delicious! I'm happy to hear that you are keeping a treasured tradition alive in your own way.

  5. ooooh you brought back memories of the best salad i've ever eaten, with figs and goat cheese....

  6. "Morbidly endearing" is the perfect way to describe that note. It's sweet that you two were able to connect like that. And fig jam - I've never tried it, but yum!

  7. ah... so lucky to be able to eat warm ripe figs right off the tree... i found your blog/patterns somehow... not sure, but i love your designs... have started the guernsey and finished the striped cardigan (although both modified a bit) THANK YOU! have a fig for me!

  8. Hey lady. My sister has a fig tree. My brother-in-law has been making fig preserves for the last few weeks. Not sure what inspired him! lol. Let me know if you need a fig preserve recipe. Gotta get by and see you one of these days. Take care!
    - Bev.

  9. The figs look delicious - lucky you! And love the story about the message from the lady. Life is full of these chance encounters and touching memories if we look for them.

    Thanks for the Quickie cowl pattern on your blog. I just finished knitting it! You can see the finished product on my blog. Thanks again for a great pattern.

  10. Fresh figs! I just swooned! I have eaten approximately 3 fresh figs in my life and thought that the experience was similar to that first fresh , on the plant, sun ripened tomato of the season after a winter, spring, and several months of summer of eating the pale imitations that are sold in stores. Nothing quite beats FRESH!

    Enjoy and have a handful for those of us who live in the land of short summers and deadly (to such a wonder as a fig tree) winters.

  11. What a nice photo of the figs and a lovely story to go along with it. I have the same type fig tree. Ours were ripe last month. I made a fig cake. It was delicious. thanks for the recipe for the preserves. Sounds wonderful - I will try it next season.

  12. what a touching story. those figs must have meant a lot to her... those connections pop up in the smallest of things don't they?
    and that fig jam (and the cream cheese!) sound divine!


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