I think my mother might have been a masochist…
Every time she made jam when I was a kid, she went through this whole big rigmarole with a pressure cooker which used to scare the daylights out of me. Probably because of her insistent warnings that it could explode…
Just a wild guess!
As a result, I was always terrified to make homemade jam. Until one day I was watching Food Network (are there other channels besides Food Network?) and they made jam with no pressure cooker. Who would have thought it?! It was so ridiculously easy that I wondered if maybe my mother just liked to torture herself for no reason at all.
I’ve been a jam making fool ever since! In fact, not a day goes by that my family does not eat some version of jam, which is why I find myself forced to continually play around with new recipes for it, so that I don’t get bored out of my mind.
I have a soft spot for figs – the shape, the colors, the sweet insides. It’s like a little piece of heaven. A piece my children usually want nothing to do with… Unless it’s mixed with another fruit like pears and pureed up into jam. Then they’ll eat it on just about anything.
To keep it intersting for me though, I added a little ginger, and some cloves to give a nice little hint of something spicy in the background. Since I was making this full well knowing my children would be eating it, I went a little light on the ginger because it’s a flavor they’re not really keen on. Feel free to add more to taste if you prefer your jam to be a little spicier or want more contrast to the sweetness.
Spiced Fig and Pear Preserves
3 pears, peeled, cored, and cut into ½” cubes
½ lb. fresh figs, halved
1 ¼ c. granulated sugar
1 – 3” cinnamon stick
½ tsp. freshly grated ginger
⅛ tsp. ground cloves
Juice of half a lemon
2 tsp. pectin
Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer gently until fruit is tender, 20-30 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick and mash or puree to desired consistency.
Spoon hot jam into sterilized*, hot (definitely not cold or they will crack) 8-oz. jam jars; screw lids on firmly. Store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks or in freezer up to 3 months.
To vacuum seal them, don’t tighten the lids quite all the way. Almost, but not quite – you want that little bit of air to escape but no water to get in. Place hot jars into boiling water and heat for 6-7 minutes. You should hear them pop, but if not, they often pop as you remove them from the water and start to cool off. The lids should have a little indent in them. At this point, label them with the date, and they will last on the shelf up to 6 months.
*To sterilize your jars you can simply run them through a dishwasher or you can boil them in the water you plan to seal the jars in. Just be sure that once they are sterile, you don’t touch the inside of the jar or lid with your hand. This will add small amounts of bacteria which will grow inside the jar and ruin your jam.