Golden Balsamic Fig & Onion Jam
Source and a discourse on fig jam: Adapted from my previous recipe, which has a much higher vinegar content than most recipes online. However, everyone who has tried my original version loves it, because you really do get the taste of the vinegar, whereas with many of the other recipes (for instance, the Cherry Tomato, Onion and Balsamic Conserve I recently made from a Better Homes & Garden recipe), you barely get a whiff of the unique balsamic vinegar taste. Many enjoy the pungency of the vinegar and sweetness of the sugar and the figs. So, if you have an abundance of figs and want a savory something that really complements a variety of cheese and charcuterie, either one of these is a good recipe. There isn’t much difference between this and the other one except for the type of sugar (we decided that the brown sugar was too sweet; I had used white sugar in the original batch years ago), the variety of the figs (green versus brown), and, given that the figs were a light green, I decided to use white balsamic vinegar to allow the colors to shine though.
Additionally, I found a 4-ounce jar of my first batch from 2009, as well as a jar of the second batch from 2012, a batch with the rosemary and lemon in it, and a jar of this batch. Having some friends over with discriminating taste buds, I asked them if they were up to trying all three jars for comparison purposes. Obviously, they trust my canning techniques – no one got sick! It does pay to do that last final processing step. We did not have a jar that contained the brown sugar, but, it was quite sweet, which is why I decided to revert to regular white sugar.
After mellowing for several years, all three tasted very similar to the freshly made batch with the LSU Gold figs and the white balsamic vinegar. My guinea pigs and friends could identify the rosemary and lemon flavors in the “chutney” without me telling them what was in it. But, they were subtle and not overwhelming.
Also, note, the fig chutney version contains much more ingredients, plus red wine vinegar. I usually include a good cooking apple (like Granny Smith, or whatever I have on hand- usually Gala apples), and I’ve also added pecans on one occasion. The apples do add to the thickness of the chutney, and the pecans add a crunchy texture, which many enjoy.
- 2 ½ cups chopped onions or 3 cups slivered onions – yellow, white, red or sweet
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cups white sugar
- 2 pounds of green figs, such as LSU Gold variety
- 3 4-inch sprigs fresh thyme, leaves removed from the stem
- 1 ½ cups white balsamic vinegar
- Prepare the jars, lids and rings for proper canning. This means washing the jars and lids, and sanitizing them. Some like to wash everything in the dishwasher if they have a sanitize cycle; some like to place the jars in a large boiling pot for 10 minutes or so; but I like to put mine in a baking pan, and place them in the oven, usually at 180 to 200 for at least 20 minutes – about half way through the jam-making process. The lids and rings I place in a small saucepan on medium throughout the cooking process. Then, proceed with your cooking.
- Dice or sliver the onions and sauté in the oil and butter while you prep the figs.
- Prep the figs. The LSU Gold figs released quite a bit of tree sap when I picked them. The tree sap is similar to latex in nature (and can cause an allergic reaction to some). To clean the figs and successfully remove the tree sap (and dead bugs and things!), place all the figs in a large mixing bowl. Cover with enough boiling water to cover the figs, and let sit about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse with clean water once or twice. If you see dead bugs floating, keep rinsing. Some batches I picked did have bugs (fruit flies; they got stuck to the tree sap), some didn’t. Remove the stems, and dice the figs into ½ inch chunks, and transfer all to a bowl.
- In a large, heavy bottomed saucepan, sauté the onions in the olive oil and butter over medium to high heat until they start to caramelize, stirring often (every few minutes). As they start to caramelize, lower the heat to medium or medium low so that they don’t burn, and let them slowly caramelize. This could take 20 to 30 minutes, but it’s worth it. Add all of the remaining ingredients and simmer over medium-high in the beginning, stirring frequently to prevent scorching (yes, it will burn). As the jam starts to thicken and figs break down, reduce the heat to medium to medium-low, still continuing to stirring frequently.
- The whole process may take 45 minutes to just over an hour (depending on your pan, and the temperature used), but, the figs will breakdown somewhat and the mixture will be reduced by a third to almost half.
- Fill the hot jars with the jam, leaving about ¼ inch of space. Place lids on, then rings. Process in a water bath for 10 minutes for 4-ounce jars; 15 minutes for 8-ounce jars. Remove and place on a clean kitchen towel, and let cool overnight. All of the lids should seal properly, some before they even hit the counter!