Thank you, author John Boyne for giving the term “flying fig” – and the lack of concern it measures – some historical context. A few years ago, Boyne included the phrase in a novel about the famous mutiny on the British ship, the Bounty, which occurred back in the late 1700s. I can now tell myself the phrase is historically accurate and not just a euphemism for another phrase that is far less polite.
What does any of that have to do with real figs? Why nothing, of course. But I did have a bounty of them drop into my lap this week.
Despite my canning ambiguity this year, I had been mulling over if there was any way I could snag some fresh figs locally (they’re a rare bird around here) and by chance overheard a friend talking about a tree loaded with figs, ripe for the plucking. As luck would have it, the tree’s owner doesn’t give a fig about getting out in this heat and picking them, so my friend/source is welcome to them. And I’m welcome to what he picks as long as I give him back some preserves, including a jar or two as recompense to the tree’s owner. It’s a sweet deal for everyone.
Yesterday morning I started with this – about 3 quarts of figs, washed and stemmed.
|It’s a miracle there were any left after I started nibbling on them.|
After a few hours of cooking down (meanwhile I scrubbed and sanitized a dozen jars) and a few minutes of filling, sealing and a quick dip in a hot water bath, I wound up with this pretty array of jars, plus one in the fridge because I misjudged the number of jars needed:
|Fig preserves; they’re like sunshine in a jar.|
But the nice neat stack of jars comes at a price. This is the kitchen after the preserves finished their water bath. Canning is not difficult, but it does take time and it is messy. Very, very messy.
|How many kettles does it take to can? All of them.|
Is it worth it? Oh yes. I’m not much of a jam/jelly/preserve fan, but I am looking forward to using these preserves in some upcoming cakes and cookies. And I’m hopeful I might get another batch or two of figs. Maybe in a year or two my fig tree will reward me with some figs. Assuming it survives transplant shock, poor baby.