The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders includes recipes like When Has a Preserve Finished Cooking?; English Marmalade; Italian Prune & Cardamom Conserve; and Brown Turkey Fig Jam with Sherry & Fennel.
eight to nine 8-ounce jars
Shelf Life: 1 to 2 years
In this unusual jam, the subtle buttery flavor of Brown Turkey figs is accentuated by the addition of sherry and fennel seeds. This gentle jam is particularly good on turkey sandwiches or with soft cheese and a sprinkling of toasted hazelnuts for dessert. If you are lucky enough to live where figs are grown, honor them by making this jam.
Place a saucer with five metal teaspoons in a flat place in your freezer for testing the jam later.
Slice 1-3/4 pounds of the figs into sixths or, if the figs are very large, into eighths. Combine the slivered figs with the sugar in a large heatproof mixing bowl and let macerate while you proceed with the recipe.
Place the remaining 2-1/2 pounds of figs in a stainless steel kettle wide enough to hold them in a single layer. Add enough cold water to make a 1/4-inch layer in the bottom of the pan. Cover the pan and bring the fruit to a simmer over medium-high heat. Stir, decrease the heat to medium-low, cover again, and cook for 5 minutes. Then, using a potato masher, crush the figs well to release their juices. Stir, cover once more, and cook for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the figs are mushy and translucent, stirring every 5 minutes or so to prevent sticking.
While the figs are cooking, crush the fennel seeds in a mortar or grind them coarsely in a spice grinder. Place the sherry and fennel seeds in a small saucepan and heat them slowly until the sherry just starts to steam. Remove the mixture from the heat, cover, and set aside to steep.
When the whole figs are finished cooking, put them through the finest disk of a food mill and add them to the slivered figs and sugar. Scrape any fruit that does not go through the mill back into the rest of the fruit, breaking up the chunks as you go. Stir well to dissolve the sugar, then add the lemon juice. Transfer the mixture to an 11- or 12-quart copper preserving pan or a wide nonreactive kettle.
Bring the jam to a boil over high heat, stirring a few times with a heatproof rubber spatula. When the jam boils, decrease the heat to a lively simmer, stirring frequently. After 7 minutes of simmering, mash the fruit a little with a potato masher. Continue cooking, stirring very frequently, and lowering the heat slightly if the jam begins to stick.
After 20 minutes of simmering, or when the jam has thickened, strain the sherry and add it to the jam. Cook a minute or two more, then test the jam for doneness. To test, remove the jam from the heat and carefully transfer a small representative halfspoonful to one of your frozen spoons. Replace the cold spoon in the freezer for 3 to 4 minutes, then remove and carefully feel the underside of the spoon. It should be neither warm nor cold; if still warm, return it to the freezer for a moment. Nudge the jam gently with your finger, then tilt the spoon vertically to see how quickly the jam runs; if it runs slowly, and if it has thickened to a gloppy consistency, it is done. If it runs very quickly or appears watery, cook it for another few minutes, stirring, and test again as needed.
When the jam is ready, pour it into sterilized jars and process according to the manufacturer's instructions or as directed on page 42 of the book.
This page created November 2010
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