The Khohanotz: Fig Jam

In “The Bell Jar” by Sylvia Plath,  human wants, needs and desires are likened to green figs, hanging from the great big tree of life. In the Biblical story of Adam and Eve, fig leaves are used to cover unmentionables in the Garden of Eden. Along with its references in literary works of yesteryear, the fig has been cultivated throughout human history for more than 6500 years. In fact, carbonized fig fruits have been found in the Jordan Valley dated to around 11,400 to 11,200 years ago, according to a 2006 study in Science Magazine.

Figs have been just as common a fruit in the cultural landscape of Armenians as pomegranates, and come fall, households fill with the aromatic, warm scents of figs being cooked for hours in a vat of sugar, water and spices. Known as “tooz” in Armenian, fig jam, once canned and refrigerated, can last at least until the next season and eaten throughout the year if a peculiar craving for this meaty fruit creeps up.

Though most jams do not contain whole fruit, but rather preserves, the Armenian recipe calls for the fig to be left whole, swimming in a bath of its honey colored sauce, to be drizzled on a piece of buttered toast, or eaten whole with a side of piping hot tea.

Although the sugar the process calls for seems like an extraordinary amount, it is the preservative that keeps that extends the shelf life of fig jam for your snacking pleasure. There are many variations on the recipe, with some adding lime, while others add whole cloves to crank up the flavor or a pinch of cinnamon or cardamom.

Fig Jam and Preserves

  • 4 lbs fresh green figs
  • 7 cups sugar
  • 5 cups water
  • Pinch of cloves
  • 1/2 lime, peeled and cut in slices

1. Wash figs without cutting stems.

2. Place figs and sugar in a laminated pot and then add water. Simmer for about  1 hour over medium heat.

3. Add a pinch of whole cloves and sliced, skinless pieces of lime.

4. Let simmer over medium heat until syrup is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

5. Sterilize jars in boiling water and then dry them. Fill with hot fig preserves and seal well. Store in a cool, dry place.




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