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What Is a Pickled Fig?

By Angie Bates
Updated May 16, 2024
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A pickled fig is a type of fruit preserved using vinegar or other acidic solution. Either fresh or dried figs are cooked in spices and vinegar, then jarred, usually with the help of a canner. Pickled figs may be eaten alone, used as toppings for breads or meats, or paired with other dishes.

Although fresh figs are often used for pickling, dried figs can be used as well. If fresh figs are used, they should always been completely ripe before being worked with. Some recipes also suggest dissolving baking soda in boiling water, pouring the water over the figs, and allowing the fruit to soak before the pickling process begins.

Cinnamon sticks and cloves are common spices added to pickled fig. Allspice is also frequently included, and lemon juice is sometimes added as well. Both sugar and vinegar are key elements, but the type of vinegar used varies. White, cider, or red wine vinegar may all be used.

To pickle figs, sugar is usually dissolved in water or directly into the vinegar and the mixture is boiled. The cloves, cinnamon, and allspice are bundled into a spice bag made of cheesecloth. Once the sugar is completely dissolved, the spice bag is placed into the water, along with lemon juice, if used, and the vinegar if it was not boiled with the sugar. Afterward, the figs are usually placed into the liquid. Some versions, however, will add the figs before the spices.

Once all the ingredients are boiling, the mixture is allowed to simmer until the figs look clear. Then, the mixture may be covered and set aside for up to 24 hours or the figs made be immediately moved to jars. If the figs are transferred to the jars immediately, the remaining liquid is reheated and reduced to a thick syrup. The syrup is then poured over the jarred figs, and the jars can be sealed. If the mixture is allowed to stand, it is reheated and both figs and liquid are poured into the jars.

When the pickled figs are all in jars with the lids sealed tightly, they can then be processed in a canner or water bath. A canned pickled fig has a similar shelf life to any canned fruit product. Canning is not necessary, however, if the pickled fig will be eaten soon after being made. It is recommended the figs are chilled for at least an hour before consumption.

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