Once again, a friend's generosity fueled my creativity in the kitchen. Walnut Creek has got the heat, and my friend Michaela invited me over to pick from her two huge fig trees on a warm day indeed. After all that hard work, her button-cute daughter Stella was nice enough to hose down my feet. That felt nice!
While I ogled and munched figs back in my kitchen, I already had a few recipes and flavor combos in mind. First up, to make some balsamic fig jam. I have been addicted to LuLu's fig balsamic vinegar for years, and it's an indisputable swoon-worthy flavor combination. Second, I wanted to use the fennel pollen I had scored at the very first food swap. Fennel and figs go together like birthdays and cake, and that's a fact. Third, was to preserve some in brandy — these Sicilian Preserved Figs were a hit with friends.
As I cooked down all these dazzling concoctions, I knew just what to do with the remaining fruit: add some smoky, spicy, heat.
Chipotle Fig Jam
Yields 4 half pints
2 lbs figs, chopped
2 cups sugar
1 cup water
4 tablespoons lemon juice, plus a few lemon slices if desired
1-1½ canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped — to taste, depending on your desired spice level
Chop your figs according to how chunky you want your jam, and place in a large non-reactive pot. Cover with sugar and let macerate for 30 minutes to an hour.
Add water, lemon juice, and lemon slices if using, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce to a simmer and stir regularly to prevent scorching.
After an hour, if needed, use a potato masher to break up the figs. Stir in the chopped chipotle chile in adobo sauce.
Cook another 15-20 minutes, or until the jam has reached a consistency you like.
Ladle into hot jars, and process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes.
Confession time: The harvest and output described here was actually from last year. In fact, I've already gone and picked the first round of this year's crop which has resulted in four new types of figgy goodness, including a different fennel flavor, plus herbal and citrus mixes. I promise to highlight some of them here before this time next year...