I have a thing for figs. Which is unfortunate for me because in general they get squooshy pretty quickly, and I’m apparently the only one in my family who has a thing for figs. My husband and I recently had a conversation to this affect.
My husband is the photographer in the family, so right before I made this compote, I picked a pretty fig or two for my husband to photograph.
“Isn’t it pretty?” I swooned.
“What do you mean, ‘no’?”
“It’s not pretty. It’s just a fig.”
“But look at the swirls of color, and the shape. It’s a pretty fruit.”
“It’s just a fruit.”
“But I thought men liked figs, cuz, you know.”
“What are you talking about?” My husband was probably getting annoyed by my interrupting his work to take yet another picture, and then distracting him from picture-taking with discussions of why he should like a particular fruit.
“Well, you know, it looks like a girly part.” I pointed at the fig’s shape, “See!”
“Ugh. That makes me like it even less.”
“How can you like it even less? It’s sexy, right? It’s a sexy little fruit!”
“No. I don’t look at a fruit and say, ‘Yum, that looks like a girly part, I think I’ll turn it into a compote’ just like you don’t look at a banana and say, ‘Yum, that looks like a boy part, I think I’m gonna make some banana bread now’.”
So, it turns out boys don’t really care about figs and the female anatomy. Myth debunked. But, I did get my husband to agree that a dollup of this canned fig compote creation, topping a cracker with brie, is just about the most delightful summer appetizer.
Now, onto the recipe! A note about this recipe…I am a very, very proud girl. I put on my big girl canning pants for this one because finding a recipe for canned fig compote turned out to be very difficult. Canned fruit must have an acid pH of 4.6 or less to prevent anaerobic food poisoning bacteria from growing . For most fruits, which tend to be acidic, that’s not a problem. But figs are an exception, with a pH of 4.9-5.0. For this reason some recipes call for a teaspoon or so of lemon juice in each jar before canning to make sure the pH is low enough. I decided that in order to bring the pH down to the proper level, I would add several cups of red wine (pH of around 3.1) and some orange juice as well. So, enjoy this lovely little canned creation!
Figs are in season for such a short time, being able to enjoy them year-round is a true pleasure.
Canned fig compote
(makes four 4-ounce jars of fig compote)
Juice of 4 oranges (8 ounces juice)
32 ounces figs, chopped (preferably black mission figs)
1.5 tablespoon sugar
2 cups red wine
10 sprigs lemon thyme
4 cups water
Cheesecloth or spice bag
Squeeze the oranges to get 8 ounces of juice. Put the juice in a bowl.
Add chopped figs to bowl, as well as sugar. Lightly mix the three and put the mixture in the refrigerator to let it rest for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, wrap your lemon thyme sprigs in cheesecloth, or stuff them into a cheesecloth spice bag.
Empty your bowl of figs/sugar/orange juice into a non-reactive saucepan. Add the red wine, water, and the bag of thyme. Bring to a boil over high heat, then simmer for about 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until most of the liquid has evaporated.
While mixture is simmering, Prepare your jars for canning.
Discard the spice bag and ladle the compote into the sterilized jars, leaving about 1/4 inch of headspace.
Wipe the rims clean, center the metal lids onto the jars and add the screw band to fingertip tight.
Process in a canner bath for 40 minutes.
Remove the jars and let cool on a rack (I use my dish rack) for 24 hours. The jar will make a popping sound as the vacuum seals the lid to the jar. After 24 hours, check the seals by pressing on the lids. The lids should be taut and slightly concave. If a lid bounces or has some give when you press on it, the seal is imperfect, and you should refrigerate the compote and use within four weeks.