Fig Jam + Bastille Day

So for those of you who have been to The Guild you have probably picked up on the fact that I love France. I am sure in another life I strolled along the Champs Elysees and bought fresh baguettes and cheese and argued with the local fishmonger. I also love a party. Heck… I started a business that doubles as an event venue; so it should’t surprise anyone that I feel the need to celebrate Bastille Day.

In case you aren’t familiar with this French holiday, please allow me to share the briefest of explanations. Bastille Day, July 14th, commemorates the storming of the Bastille (a French prison in Paris) during the French Revolution. Think of it as the equivalent of our Independence Day. In France they have fireworks and good wine and amazing foods. They have parties into the night. The blast La Marseillaise (the national anthem) and cheer at military parades… in short, they party like it’s the Fourth of July.

Here at The Guild we thought what better way to celebrate Bastille Day than to share with you my favorite French thing, fig jam. Hear me out, this is a truly wonderful way to remember the French and how they are able to elevate the humble fig into a truly golden flavor explosion, perfect for spreading on a buttered croissant or coupling with a creamy brie. I for one fell deeper in love with figs about 2 years ago in the south of France. My dearest friend had us down to celebrate our birthdays and I still think that it is one of the greatest trips I have ever taken. Throughout the trip figs were seen everywhere, perfect little jewels ripe for the picking. I spent half the trip trying to decide if I would get in trouble snagging a few off a limb while simultaneously trying to decide how good my French was in case I got caught. Our hosts always had a bowl of them ready each morning at breakfast, as well as the greatest fig jam I’ve ever had. Made by a canal lock operator, his jam was heaven sent, and each morning I would slather it on a croissant and try to guess how he did it? How did he keep the figs whole? How did he get the complexity of flavors? Did he use vanilla bean? Cardamom? Cinnamon sticks? I was a really fun guest, I swear, but the canner in me had to know. We came home with jars of it. I only let my husband have bits under the most special of occasions. I poured over books and YouTube. I watched videos (in French) on canning. I have been making jams for 10 years and I had yet to make a recipe as amazing as his. Why couldn’t I be his apprentice and live in France making gallons of this stuff?

Well, I am happy to report that after a summer (or two) of trial and error I am pretty stinking close. And for those of you out there who may be going crazy like me, or you have a fig tree in your backyard and are wondering what the heck to do with it… please run grab your canning supplies and make this! And guys, it really couldn’t be easier. I was totally overthinking and overcomplicating it. I should have known that the French would go the simple route and let their ingredients shine.

Fresh figs in syrup on buttered toast. It is also fantastic on brie, goat cheese baguettes, or simply drizzled over ice cream. Bon Appetit!

Fresh figs in syrup on buttered toast. It is also fantastic on brie, goat cheese baguettes, or simply drizzled over ice cream. Bon Appetit!

Confiture de Figue

(from Bayou Woman)

12 cups ripe figs

4 cups water

6 cups sugar

4 lemon slices, seeds removed

Wash figs in cool water. Remove stems. Boil a pot of water and gently place figs in. Remove from heat. Let sit 3 minutes and drain. In a heavy bottomed pot, combine sugar and water. Bring to a rolling boil, stirring constantly until it makes a clear syrup. Add lemon slices and figs. Lower heat to medium and simmer figs for 2-3 hours, swirling rather than stirring occasionally. Pour into jars and process in a water bath for 10 minutes.

Now if you don’t have a fig tree ripe for the picking chances are a friend doesn’t know what kind of the gold mine they are sitting on… but if you still are striking out I would love to recommend Matt Family Orchard in Tomball. They are an easier drive up HWY 99 and have a hug fig tree orchard (as well as other fruits). Please check their website for picking hotline and hours.

Wishing you a happy Bastille Day and canning adventures,