Late summer is a busy season at my parent’s house. The apple trees are loaded with apples and the fig tree has my mother scrambling to find people who like figs. If it’s fig season and you’re meeting my mother for the first time, right after “nice to meet you” you’ll hear, “do you like figs?” with a look of hopeful anticipation. Mom can never find enough neighbors, friends, ladies at the exercise class to give figs to so she dries and freezes some, and with others makes a wonderful fig microwave jam.
Microwave jam, what’s that? That, my friends, is the way my mother makes jams. She learned this technique 30 years ago from Sunset Magazine and never looked back. Now that I’ve finally tried her approach, I can see the appeal. You make only small batches – a pint at a time – enough for your own use in most cases, and it takes all of 15 minutes of cooking time. Since we make only 2 small jars and we use them up quickly, there’s no need to sterilize the jars, just use clean jars that have been rinsed, and put the jam in refrigerator after it has set.
This spicy, orange-y fig jam is a cinch to make. We used mild green figs because we grow them, but you could easily use the darker Mission figs. The jam is a wonderful dipping sauce for nutty cheeses such as Gruyere.
- 1 1/2 cups diced fresh figs (6-10 figs, depending on the size of the figs)
- 1/2 cup seeded, peeled orange, diced
- 1 1/2 cups of sugar (reduce if you want, though it won't set as well)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel
- 3 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon butter
- 2 (8-ounce) canning jars
1 Place the ingredients in a large ceramic or glass bowl or casserole (we use a 2-quart pyrex measuring cup), stir to combine, let sit for 30 minutes for the fruit to macerate in the sugar.
2 Place in microwave. You will cook the fruit mixture on the high setting for approximately 15 minutes. As soon as the mixture starts to boil, after about 6 to 8 minutes, stop the cooking and stir. Continue cooking and stir every few minutes. At about 13 minutes the mixture should start to get viscous. If you spoon out a bit on to a small plate that has been in the freezer, you can push the mixture around a bit with your finger tip to see how thick it is. If it is runny, cook it a couple minutes more. You can also check by seeing how the jam runs off of a spoon. If it seems to firm up a bit as it drips, it's done.
If you use a large pyrex measuring cup as we have done here, you can see that you start with close to 3 cups of liquid. You want to boil it down to 2 cups.
3 Pour out the jam into jars, leaving 1/4-inch of headroom from the top of the jars. If you want to keep your jam in a cupboard, then use sterilized jars (heat them in the oven at 200°F for 10 minutes). If you plan to eat up quickly and will keep them in the refrigerator, regular clean jars will do.