You know when something new appears on your radar and then all of a sudden it's everywhere? Like when you buy a car and then you see the same model all over the road.
For me at the moment that thing is figs. I've never been a massive fan but recently I had them cooked for me and they were absolutely delicious. It seems that every cookbook or magazine I now pick up has fig recipes when they didn't before! (Well they did, I just didn't care for them.)
These fruit are currently in season, increasing my chances of coming across them, and providing the opportunity to make jam. My friend Jake has a giant tree in his backyard and didn't want the glut of figs to go to waste so we turned them into, you guessed it, fig jam. And it is great - just like the acronym seen on coffee cups, in workplaces, the world over.
You need to do a bit of preparation before the jam making; the ingredients need to infuse for a few hours - ideally overnight - and the jars need to be sterilised.
Let's start with the jars. Wash them in hot soapy water and rinse well. Pop them in a big pot and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and let them bubble away for 10 minutes. In the meantime, heat your oven to 150C degrees and then pop the boiled jars in to dry completely. Make sure you do not touch the insides of the jars once they have come out of the pot and completed the drying process.
They are now nice and sterile and ready to be filled with your preserve.
1kg figs, trimmed and roughly chopped (be sure to weigh them after you trim them to get the exact weight)
500gm caster sugar (you can get special jam making sugar if you're worried about it not setting)
1 cinnamon stick
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped out
rind and juice of 1 lemon
Put all the ingredients in a bowl and mix well to coat the fruit in the sugar. You can pop the vanilla bean pod in too until it's time to put the jam into jars.
Ideally you want the ingredients to sit together overnight, but if you don't have time, two hours is the minimum.
Transfer the ingredients into a pot and stir to dissolve all the sugar. Bring the pot to the boil and then reduce the heat as low as it will go. Once the figs begin to soften you can mash them with a fork.
It will take 45-60 minutes for the jam to set. Stir regularly and make sure it's not sticking to the bottom of the pot.
According to Dame Stephanie Alexander, the best way to see if your jam is set is to pop a tablespoon of it onto a saucer and put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes. You then run your finger through the cold jam and if it stays separated it is set.
Pectin is the culprit that makes jam set, so for fig jam you want to put a few not-so-ripe fruit in, as these ones contain more of the magic pectin than the ripe figs.
Once the jam is set, remove the cinnamon stick and the vanilla pod and ladle the jam into the sterile jars. It will keep for around 3 months.