It's hot. On days like these, it feels like the only thing moving is bees.
Once the morning ends and the day heats, I'm inside planning, planning, planning for the almost-here-school-year, but the trees and plants keep producing, so I have to find ways to keep the goodies. I developed this recipe for pickled figs almost exactly this same time last year, and now have made it again this summer with figs from my young Kadota and Black Jack trees, as well as some additions from a friend's tree. Like last year, it is too hot for me to want to hot-water-bath can them, so I tuck them unsealed into the refrigerator, where they last for a long time.
These pickles are delicious: sweet and spicy, winey and herbal. This past winter, I cracked open my last jar to go with cheeses and cocktail nibbles, and it felt like we were eating the concentrated flavors and scents that happen around here in August. In other words, these pickled figs aren't shy.
Spicy Pickled Figs
My own recipe.
You will need:
1 pound of fresh, unblemished figs
1 quart water
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup red wine vinegar
about 3 inches of orange zest, peeled off the orange in a long strip with a vegetable peeler
1 small head of fresh fennel seed (or, a scant half teaspoon of seed)
1 ripe jalapeno type chile, split, seeds removed, and sliced into long strips.
To make the figs:
Rinse the summer dust off the figs and place them in a medium sized pot. Pour the water and the salt into the pot, and bring the water to a high simmer. Simmer for 15 minutes to remove some of the natural latex in the fruit. Remove from heat, pour out the fruit into a colander, and drain, leaving the fruit in the colander while you move on to the next step.
Place the brown sugar, white sugar, and vinegar in the pot and stir over medium heat until the sugars have dissolved. Add the figs from the colander, the orange zest, fennel seed, and as many of the chile strips as you like (based on your level of spice-pleasure). Bring the mixture to a simmer, and simmer, stirring occasionally, for an hour. Remove from heat.
Using a slotted spoon, scoop the fruit out and into three half pint jars, spreading the fruit and flavorings evenly between them. Carefully pour the syrup over the fruit into the jars, making sure each piece of fruit is covered.
If you would like to hot water bath can the figs so they'll be shelf stable, you may do so by following the directions the USDA provides for home preservation here. Otherwise, since the mixture is high in acetic acid (the vinegar) and sugar, the jars will last, lidded tightly, indefinitely in the refrigerator. Do not leave unsealed (non-water bath treated) jars at room temperature.