Caramelised figs

Caramelised figs

Fichi canditi

By
From
Acquacotta
Makes
2 x 250 ml jars
Photographer
Emiko Davies; Lauren Bamford

This is a delicious and elegant way to preserve fresh figs whole, in syrup. It’s a little like fig jam, only with less sugar and rather than a mush of figs, here they are barely touched, so they are beautifully and perfectly whole.

As they cook, the figs begin to give way entirely, becoming soft and very malleable. The sugar begins to melt and the figs release their own juices, so that eventually the figs become covered in syrup. Then the figs themselves change colour as the syrup permeates them. The skin becomes glossy and transparent, the figs take on a slightly darker, caramel colour. When you cut into one of these plump, soft, syrupy figs, out pours the jam.

Caramelised figs are rather special with soft cheeses as part of a cheese platter, or with good fresh ricotta, natural yoghurt or just stolen right out of the jar, as is. You can also make them a tiny bit boozy by adding a splash of cognac or brandy to the syrup once taken off the heat.

In southern Tuscany, green figs (which seem to grow everywhere and anywhere, rising out of stone walls or cracks in the concrete) are most common, but you could use any fig for this. Just make sure they aren’t bruised, split or overly ripe. In fact, this is a good recipe for slightly under-ripe figs – they hold their shape very well when cooked this way.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
1kg figs
1 lemon, (organic or unwaxed)
200g suger
splash cognac or brandy, (optional)

Method

  1. The night before, rinse the figs carefully and place them tightly together, bottoms down, in an even layer in a heavy-bottomed pot (one that you would use for jamming). If you need to make two layers, just make sure the figs are still carefully sitting upright. With a vegetable peeler, peel the lemon into long strips and add to the pot. Pour over the sugar and leave it overnight in a cool place.
  2. The next day, place the pot over gentle heat and let them cook slowly, uncovered, and without stirring. After about 20 minutes of simmering, the figs will begin to soften. At this stage, try to carefully nudge them into one layer, still upright. I use a large spoon for this; be quite careful so as not to accidentally pierce them.
  3. Continue simmering until the figs are covered in syrup. When cooked, they should be entirely soft (including their stems) and evenly caramel coloured, and the syrup should be producing big bubbles as it boils. The timing depends entirely on the figs themselves – what kind they are, the thickness of their skins, their level of maturity. It can take about 1 hour, but keep an eye on them.
  4. Carefully lift out each boiling hot fig and place in clean, sterilised jars. If you want to make them boozy, add a splash of cognac or brandy to the syrup now. Then pour the syrup over to cover the fruit completely, until 5 mm from the top. Seal the lids tightly – but don’t turn them over or reboil them to seal. Just let them sit on the counter until thoroughly cooled. Store in the refrigerator.
  5. When sealed properly, the unopened jars of figs last for several months. Once opened, store in the refrigerator and consume within a week. (They never last that long though!)
Tags:
Italian
Tuscany
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