From Canning for a New Generation by Liana Krissoff ($27.50, Stewart, Tabori, & Chang, 2016)
- 1 small lemon, quartered and thinly sliced, seeds removed
- 3 pounds ripe figs, stemmed and rinsed, left whole if small, halved if larger
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- Preheat the oven to 300°F.
- Scatter the lemon slices over the bottom of a large roasting pan, then spread the figs in the pan. Sprinkle with the sugar and pour in 1 cup water.
- Cover the pan with aluminum foil and roast for 2 hours, then uncover the pan, increase the oven temperature to 400°F, and roast for about 1 ½ hours more, until the figs are dark, the lemon slices are translucent, and the juices are bubbling and have reduced to a dark, somewhat thick syrup.
- Prepare for water-bath canning: Sterilize the jars and keep them hot in the canning pot, and put the flat lids in a heatproof bowl.
- Ladle boiling water from the canning pot into the bowl with the lids. Using a jar lifter, remove the sterilized jars from the canning pot, carefully pouring the water from each one back into the pot, and place them upright on a folded towel. Drain the water off the jar lids.
- Spoon the hot figs and lemon slices into the jars, leaving ¼ inch headspace at the top, and pour the syrup from the roasting pan over them, leaving ¼ inch headspace. Use a chopstick to remove air bubbles around the inside of each jar. Use a damp paper towel to wipe the rims of the jars, then put a flat lid and ring on each jar, adjusting the ring so that it’s just finger-tight. Return the jars to the water in the canning pot, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch.
- Bring to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes to process. Remove the jars to a folded towel and do not disturb for 12 hours. After 1 hour, check that the lids have sealed by pressing down on the center of each; if it can be pushed down, it hasn’t sealed, and the jar should be refrigerated immediately. Label the sealed jars and store.
My worldly friend Regan Huff told me about slow-roasting figs at her family’s house in France, and I had to try it as a preserve. The figs roast very, very slowly, which gives them time to gradually absorb the sugar before they start to caramelize. Regan also remembered that those roasted figs were served with ricotta. Spoon a bit of cold, creamy fresh cheese and warmed preserves onto a small plate, sprinkle with savory salted and toasted pine nuts and rosemary, and call it dessert.