Fig season is here. Right now. Blink or you'll miss it.
This gorgeous, deep caramel-flavoured fruit is late summer's big hit (for me at least). So when Mum called to say that the tree in hers and Dad's garden was full of ripe figs, and that we'd better come and pick some or the birds will get every last one, (or something along those lines), well...we put on our skates and got there as quickly as possible.
Alice and Dad tottered on the ladder to reach the highest figs while Tom and I skitted around the edges and we left with a beautiful big basket of purple beauties (and the basket too - sorry Mum I didn't have anything else to carry them in! will return it asap).
Back home, it's too hot and our fridge too full to eat the full haul at our leisure. So last night I did the unthinkable - turned the oven on to sterilise jars - and preserved nearly all of them in a honey and black tea syrup (see recipe below).
Fresh figs really don't need any treatment at all, but if you have a few and fancy tricking them up a bit, you might try this caramelised onion and fig pizzas, these fig and honey tarts, this fresh fig ice cream or this stunning and easy dessert of goat's curd, figs, blackberries and warm honey.
Look out for figs at your local farmers market or fruit shops, and if in Orange - check out the beautiful varieties carried at The Agrestic Grocer, from Katie and Beau Baddock's Nashdale orchard.
Honey preserved figsI have made a few small changes and additions to this recipe but essentially it comes from my new favourite book; the River Cottage Handbook No.2 - Preserves by Pam Corbin. Pam's idea of preserving figs in this lovely, light syrup is brilliant, easy and worth a try. It's a really great way to preserve figs if you happen to have a glut (lucky lucky you) and they should last for up to 12 months if the jars have been sterilised properly.
550mls freshly brewed black tea
1 tsp vanilla paste
4 tbsp verjus
Makes 2 x 250ml jars. Preheat oven to 140C and put sterilised jars inside to heat. Wash the figs and trim the woody ends. Combine the tea, honey and vanilla in a large saucepan and bring to the boil. Add the figs, reduce heat and cook for 15 minutes or until tender.
Pack the figs in your hot jars, then return them to the oven while you cook down the syrup. Bring the heat back up to high, add the verjus and bring the syrup back to the boil.
Cook for a few minutes to reduce a little then remove jars from the oven, pour the syrup over each (filling them right up to the top) and seal as quickly as possible.
Delicious with - yogurt and granola for breakfast, cured meats and cheeses on a nice big nibbles platter or even barbecued or roasted venison or duck as a subtle, sweet side.