Thursday, August 5, 2010

Fig Season

So as it turns out, I'm feeling bold. Or at least this morning I was feeling bold. On my way up to feed the chickens I spent ten minutes picking a basket full of ripe figs. I could have spent an hour and had bushels, but that would have required a ladder, and the chickens were starting to squawk with impatience.

After removing a handful for my breakfast I weighed (3 1/2 pounds) and washed the figs and set them out to dry off a little while I decide what to do with them. I can either go with the Drunken Fig Jam recipe from Epicurious or I can get my grandmothers dried fig recipe going in the hopes that by the time the four days it takes to prep them for drying, Will and I can have some kind of solar dryer rigged up. I'm thinking the latter, because Will likes dried figs as much (well, not really as much, but he does like them) as I do (drat the man, I used to have them all to my self!:)) And while I like fig jam, well, it's certainly not as high on my list as dried figs. I mean, duh, I named my blog after them. Right?

My grandmother's dried fig recipe is something of a mystery to me. I could, of course, ask her about it. But it's kind of fun to just wonder. Here's how it reads

5 lbs fresh figs with stems (I may have to get that ladder out to make up that 1 1/2 pound difference!)

wash and add 2 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar

1. Boil one hour covered. Pour into a glass dish
2. Next day - boil 1 hour uncovered
3. Next day - boil 1 hour uncovered
4. Next day - boil 1 hour uncovered

Drain in colander, let set until cool. Take out and shape. Lay on racks to dry in the sun. Dry until no longer sticky feeling. Turn over at least once while drying.

OK, so here's my theory. My grandmother had five kids. FIVE. And she was one of those wonder women who made most of their food from scratch, preserved a ton of things from the garden, sewed clothes and quilts and whatever else needed making. So I'm not saying this is how it happened, but if that were my recipe, it would have come about from a) starting to boil my figs too late in the day and then realizing that I needed the pot for dinner, hence the glass bowl. And then I would have forgotten about then so the next day I would have to reboil them. And then I'd forget again and have to reboil them again. And then I'd have to run out and get some part that my kids took off my dryer for a project that I didn't remember until just that moment so I'd have to reboil one more time. But my grandmother was probably far more organized than that, so I'll just take it on faith that this is just the way the recipe has to be. And after all, I've never in my life had a dried fig that was as good as hers always are, so I'm willing to follow it to a "T". Although I may have to use a ceramic bowl instead of a glass, unless I feel very virtuous and go out and buy a glass one. But I've already been bold today, so virtuous will probably have to wait until tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. I think the glass bowl might have been so the figs don't pick up any weird flavor things from metal...I'm sure ceramic is okay, too. I think Mom just left them in the pan, which was Revere Ware, and stainless steel. You'd have to ask her, though...I just have memories of those figs cooking on the stove day after day, and then helping put them on the netting and clothespinning them to the clothesline in the back yard. She'd fold the netting over the top so the birds wouldn't get to them. In Redding, that was enough of a "solar dryer". However, Daddy built her a dryer that was basically a tall box on legs with mesh racks that slid into the front (I think there must have been a door, too). Then, I believe there was a simple solar heat collector made from a flat box with a plexiglas lid, and the inside painted black. That was attached to the bottom edge of the box at an angle somehow so the heat collected would travel up through the middle.
    Good luck! And yeah, you probably better make it the same way or they'll never taste like Grandma's...

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