This luxurious Balsamic Fig Jam improves breakfast spreads, increases the appeal of baked goods, and creates unforgettable savory bites. It makes for a unique gift, too!
Fresh figs: love ʼem or hate ʼem? Fresh figs have a unique texture, a honeyed sweetness, and a mellow, earthy taste—but a perfect fresh fig can be difficult to find. Like many other fruits, the flavor of imperfect fresh figs can be improved tenfold by macerating them in sugar for a short amount of time. I like to use short-macerated figs in salads or over yogurt or oatmeal for breakfast—but if I’m lucky enough to score a large quantity of figs for cheap, I’ll turn them into a sweet treat no one can resist: Balsamic Fig Jam.
This Balsamic Fig Jam is made in three steps:
First boil, then overnight rest
Second boil, then preserve
The first step, fruit maceration, allows figs to “loosen up” and start releasing their juices. This step is especially important if you have imperfect, or not quite ripe, figs on your hands. Macerating the figs will wake up their subtle flavor.
The second step, the first boil followed by an overnight rest, softens the fig skin and flesh, allowing it to become glassy and super jammy in the final step.
The final step, the second boil, turns the concoction into a proper, dreamy jam you can jar and preserve the way you would any other jams. (See the recipe note for instructions for sterilizing jars and lids for preserving.) I like to divide the jam between small jars, which are perfect for gifting. I also find that a smaller format easily allows you to go through it in one sitting, which means you won’t be stuck with storing yet another half-empty jam jar in the fridge.
This Balsamic Fig Jam is extremely versatile. You can, of course, serve it with croissants and fresh bread for breakfast, but you can also slather it over the bottom of a pie crust (it’s an excellent flavor addition to frangipane tart), dollop it over financiers instead of using fresh figs, spoon it over vanilla bean gelato or ice cream, or spread it between the layers of a cake.
But don’t limit yourself to sweet options: The balsamic vinegar intensifies the taste of the figs, which makes this Balsamic Fig Jam perfect for savory flavor pairings, too. You can use it the way you’d use a chutney or onion confit: spoon it over terrines and hard cheeses, such as Pecorino Romano, serve it alongside cured meats, as a garnish over goat cheese or blue cheese crostini, as a pizza topping, or even as a condiment for roasted pork, chicken, or turkey.
Keep your eyes peeled for fresh figs through the fall: most grocery stores will sell them by the case while they’re in season. Buying a larger quantity means you can spare some of them to make this jam and still keep a few to enjoy fresh. If you’re lucky enough to live close to where figs grow, or even have a fig tree in your own backyard, go ahead and double or even triple this recipe. You’ll get to gift this delightful Balsamic Fig Jam throughout the holiday season!
In a large measuring cup or a heatproof bowl, add the figs and half of the sugar (1 cup/250 ml) and toss to combine. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour.
Transfer the fig and sugar mixture to a small stainless steel saucepan. (The mixture should come halfway up the sides of the saucepan.) Set over medium heat and bring to a boil, stirring from time to time with a silicon spatula. When the mixture comes to a boil, remove from the heat and transfer back to the measuring cup or heatproof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap, then let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate overnight.
Sterilize jam jars if you do not plan to use the jam within two weeks. (See note below for instructions.) If you plan to use the jam within two weeks, you should still make sure the jars and lids you use are sparkling clean. Clean jars and lids in hot soapy water, then leave to dry while you prepare the jam. You can also run the jars and lids in the dishwasher set at the "sterilization" cycle.
Transfer the fig and sugar mixture back into the saucepan. Keep a skimmer or a slotted spoon close to the stove. Place a small plate in the refrigerator. Set the saucepan over medium heat, and bring the fruit back to a boil, stirring from time to time with a silicon spatula. Stir in the remaining sugar, the lemon juice, and the balsamic vinegar. Boil, stirring, until the mixture is thick but not to concentrated, about 10 minutes. Skim off any foam that rises, dipping the spoon or skimmer into the bowl of water to remove the foam.
To test for doneness, remove the place from the refrigerator and place a spoonful of jam on it. Wait for 20 seconds, then tilt the plate. The fig jam should only run very slowly. Boil a little longer if it seems too runny, keeping in mind the jam will thicken further as it cools. You want the fig jam to remain spreadable.
Carefully fill the clean jars with the hot jam, leaving 1/4 inch (a little over 0.5 cm) headspace at the top. Wipe the sealing surface of the jars with a clean paper towel, dampened with hot water, to remove any jelly, jam or sugar crystals. Add clean lids and tighten screw bands.
To preserve the jam, process according to the instructions below. Otherwise, let the jam cool to room temperature, then refrigerate. Unsterilized fig jam and opened jars will keep, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks.
Recipe Credit: Adapted from a recipe by Martha Rose Shulman, The New York Times.
How to sterilize jars and lids for preserving: All jams, jellies, and pickled products processed less than 10 minutes should be filled into sterile empty jars. Since this recipe hits right at the 10-minute mark, I recommend you to sterilize the jars you'll be using if you do not plan on consuming the jam within two weeks.To sterilize empty jars: Wash lids and jars in hot soapy water, rinse, then transfer to a boiling water bath for 10 minutes, making sure the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch (2 cm). Keep the lids and jars in hot water until you're ready to fill them. Remove and drain hot sterilized jars one at a time. (Save the water for processing filled jars.) Carefully fill jars with the hot jam, leaving 1/4 inch (a little over 0.5 cm) headspace at the top. Wipe the sealing surface of the jars with a clean paper towel, dampened with hot water, to remove any jelly, jam or sugar crystals. Add clean lids and tighten screw bands. Using a jar lifter, return the filled jars to the hot water bath, making sure the jars do not touch each other and the water covers the jars by at least 1 inch (2 cm). Bring the water to a simmer, then set a timer for 10 minutes. (Processing time varies to the altitude where you live. See this guide to select the correct processing time.)Using a jar lifter, carefully remove the jars from the hot water and place them directly onto a towel or cake cooling rack, leaving at least one inch of space between the jars during cooling. Avoid placing the jars on a cold surface or in a cold draft. Cool jars upright for 12 to 24 hours while vacuum seal is drawn and the jam or jelly sets up. Let the jars sit undisturbed while they cool. Store the jam in a cool, dark place until ready to use.This information is adapted from the National Center for Home Food Preservation. Please refer to their website for additional information and preserving advice.
Did you make this?
Tell me how you liked it! Leave a comment or take a picture and tag it with @foodnouveau on Instagram.
This site is a participant in the Amazon Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for the site to earn fees by linking to Amazon and affiliated sites.
If you click on an affiliate link, I may earn advertising or referral fees if you make a purchase through such links, at no extra cost to you. This helps me creating new content for the blog–so thank you! Learn more about advertising on this site by reading my Disclosure Policy.