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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mom's Oven ---- How to make Fig Jam

This fig tree was planted many years ago. It's one of the two fruit trees we have before we started our vegetable garden.  It was only last 2012 that it finally bore its first fruits.  The Great Gardener has been taking care of it by putting fertilizer sticks around the tree.  It's worth all his time and effort because its first fruits are so sweet that I can even eat them while picking.     


Newly Harvested Figs
They contain *calcium, copper, potassium, manganese, iron, selenium, zinc, and  Vitamins A, E, K, and B-complex.  They also contain chlorogenic acid that helps lower blood sugar levels and control blood glucose level in type II diabetes mellitus.  

When its skin color turns reddish,  it's ready for harvest.  Don't let it turn overripe.  They can attract birds and other insects even before harvesting them.  

*Nutrition Reference:

Please see about planting other vegetables and trees - The Garden (2012) and The Garden (2013). 

How to make Fig Jam
This fig jam can be stored for a year.  You can give them to your loved ones as a gift on certain occasion.  They will surely love and enjoy it with their favorite bread or waffles during snack or breakfast time.  I included this in one of my baking recipes like, Pumpkin Muffin with Fig Jam.   You can bring it also during picnic time and have it enjoy with family members.   

Equipments and Utensils:
     16 quart boiler-water canner
     1 dozen Mason jars half-pint (regular mouth)
     1 jar lifter
     1 food scale
     1 candy / jelly thermometer
     1 cooking timer
     1 skimmer or slotted spoon
     1 bubble remover & headspace tool
     1 ladle
     1 saucepot for making the jam
     1 saucepan for heating lids
     1 saucepot for heating jars (optional if you have dishwasher)
     5 lbs. fresh figs            
     6 cups sugar
     ¾ cup water
     ¼ cup lemon juice

To prepare figs:
Harvest or purchase only top quality fruit at its peak of flavor, texture and color. Wash fruit thoroughly under cold running water. Discard any overripe or diseased fruit. Dry the fruit. Weigh the fresh figs.  Completely cover figs with boiling water. Let stand 10 minutes. Drain, stem, and chop figs.  Crushing or chopping the fruit too finely will add too much fruit and juice to the recipe, causing an imbalance of ingredients that may not allow the spread to gel. Measure 2 quarts chopped figs.

Boiling-Water Processing:
1. Fill boiling-water canner half-full with water and bring to a simmer (180 degrees F). Position canner rack over simmering water.

Note:   Selecting, Cleaning and Heating Jars
All jars must be visually examined for nicks, cracks, uneven rims and other damage or defects. Once it has been determined the jars selected for use are in good condition, wash new and previously used jars in hot soapy water. A dishwasher may be used for washing the jars. Do not use brushes with wire components, steel wool or abrasive materials or cleanser; they are likely to damage the glass.

Jars must be heated for 10 minutes before filling to help prevent jar breakage. Submerge jars in enough water to cover. Bring water to a simmer (180 degrees F), keeping jars in simmering water until ready for use. Remove jars one at a time as they are needed for filling.  Jars can be heated in a saucepot on a cook-top. Or, in a slow cooker that has a temperature control that can maintain 180 degrees F.  A dishwasher may also be used for heating jars. Jars should be washed and dried using a complete regular cycle. Keep jars in the closed dishwasher removing one at a time as needed.

Note:   Selecting, Cleaning and Heating Lid
Choose the appropriate sized caps for the jars you will be using. New lids with sealing compound must be used for each canning. Wash two-piece caps in hot, soapy water. Rinse in hot water. Do not use any abrasive materials or cleansers that might scratch or damage the coatings on the lids and bands. Dry bands and set aside.

Home canning lids with sealing compound must be heated for 10 minutes before using to help lids achieve a vacuum seal. Place lids in water to cover and bring water to a simmer (180 degrees F), keeping lids in simmering water until ready for use. Remove lids one at a time as they are needed for canning. Lids can be heated in a saucepan on a cook-top. Or, in a slow cooker that has a temperature control that can maintain 180 degrees F. Overheating lids by boiling can result in seal failure. Lids are not reusable; however, bands can be reused if they are in good condition.
2.   Prepare the recipe.

How to make a Fig Jam:
a) Combine figs, sugar, and water in a large saucepot. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring until sugar dissolves. Cook rapidly to gelling point.

Note:   Gelling Test
Remove the saucepot from heat so the soft spread does not continue to cook while you are testing the gel.  Jams, marmalades and preserves can be tested using a plate test or a thermometer. To complete a plate test, place a small amount of the hot spread on a chilled plate; set plate in a freezer until spread is cooled to room temperature. Gently run your finger through the cooled spread, if it separates then slowly returns to its original form, it is ready to process.

To use a candy / jelly thermometer for testing the gelling point, first determine the exact the gelling point for your elevation. Hold the candy / jelly thermometer in boiling water; add 8 degrees F to establish the gelling point.  Once the gelling point is determined, prepare recipe.  When reading the candy / jelly thermometer, hold vertical in the mixture and read the markings at eye level. Once the spread has reached the gelling point, remove it from the heat.

b) As mixture thickens, stir frequently to prevent sticking.
c) Add lemon juice and cook 1 minute longer. Remove from heat. Skim foam if necessary with a skimmer or slotted spoon.
d) Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving ¼ -inch headspace. Adjust two-piece caps. Process 15 minutes in a boiling-water canner.
Note:   Removing Air Bubbles
After the food has been packed into the jar, any air bubbles that are present must be removed.  This can be done by placing a nonmetallic spatula inside the jar between the food and the side of the jar. Press spatula back against food to release trapped air. Repeat several times around the inside of the jar. Do not use metal knives or other metal utensils since they can scratch the glass and result in jar breakage. Even though air bubbles may not be visible, they can be trapped between pieces of food and must be removed.

Note:   Measuring Headspace
Headspace is the space in the jar between the top of the food or liquid and the inside of the lid. As a general rule, leave 1-inch headspace for low-acid foods, vegetables, and meats; ½ -inch headspace for high-acid foods, fruits, and tomatoes; ¼-inch headspace for juices, jams, jellies, pickles, and relishes. Care must be taken in filling the jars to the correct headspace.

Note:   Cleaning Jar Rims
The rim of the jar must be wiped with a clean, damp cloth. Particles of food remaining on the rim of a jar can prevent a vacuum seal.

Note:   Adjusting Lids and Bands
After each jar is filled and the jar rim is cleaned, place lid on jar rim, centering sealing compound on glass. Only the sealing compound should be touching the glass. Place a  band over the lid and screw it onto the jar just until a point of resistance is met – fingertip tight. The adjustment of the band is firm and snug, but not as tight as you can make it. Using a jar lifter, place jar onto canner rack in the canner.
3. Place jars on canner rack immediately after each jar is filled. Carefully lower the rack into simmering water. Water level must cover jars and two-piece vacuum caps by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if needed.

4. Put the canner lid in place. Adjust heat to medium-high, bringing water to a rolling boil. Set timer according to the recipe processing time (15 minutes for this fig jam). Maintain water at a rolling boil for the entire processing period.

5. After the processing period is complete, turn off heat and remove canner lid. Let canner cool 5 minutes before removing jars.

6. Remove jars from canner by using the jar lifter, setting jars upright on a dry towel or cutting board to cool. Leave 1 to 2 inches of space between jars. Do not tighten bands if they loosened during processing. Let jars cool naturally 12 to 24 hours before checking for a seal.

Testing Seals:
 Press the center of the lid to determine if it is concave; then remove the band and gently try to lift the lid off with your fingertips.  If the center does not flex up and down and you cannot lift the lid off, the lid has a good vacuum seal.

Reprocessing Unsealed Jars:
If a lid does not seal within 24 hours, the product can be immediately reprocessed. To reprocess the product, remove the lid and reheat the food and/or liquid as recommended by the recipe. Pack food into clean, hot jars. Place a new, heated lid on the jar and adjust band. Reprocess the product using the canning method and full length of processing time
recommended by the recipe.
     If you determine the lid did not seal because of damage to the jar, dispose of the jar and its contents.

     You may want to consider alternative storage methods for foods that did not seal, such as refrigerating or freezing.

Foods canned following tested recipes, correct processing methods and processing time can be safely stored for one year.  After one year, natural chemical changes may occur that could lessen the quality. These changes may affect the flavor, color, texture or nutritional value. For this reason, food stored the longest period of time should be used first. Labeling each jar with the date the product was canned, as well as the type and variety of the product will help you easily identify inventory that needs to be rotated.

Before storing sealed jars, remove the bands and wash lids and entire surface of the jars to remove any food residue. Rinse and dry. Bands need not be replaced. If bands are stored on sealed jars, they may corrode and become difficult to remove.

Like commercially canned foods, once home canned foods are opened they have a shortened shelf expectancy.  Leftover foods must be refrigerated or frozen until used again. However, they are best if used within a few days.

Opening Jars    
To open jars with vacuum sealed lids, release the vacuum with a can opener and lift off the lid. This method of removing lids will help prevent damage to the jar’s sealing surface. The vacuum lids are not reusable. Do no serve any product which does not have a vacuum sealed lid or shows signs of spoilage.
Yield:  10 half pint jars

*Adapted from Ball Blue Book Guide to Preserving
Note:  Compiled and summarized to show the easy step-by-step method of processing fruits and to provide some general information about  home canning only.  This recipe itself is solely made by the author, Maymona Susan Hamilton, and not taken from the book itself.

Please view also another food recipe using these figs - Nutty Figgy Bread and other canning recipes shown below:
    Bitter Melon Pickles              
    Garden Blend Salsa  
    Seasoned Tomato Sauce                  


“Cooking doesn’t only involve knowing what and how to cook and prepare  all the ingredients, but also how much you love to cook for somebody .”

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