Fig jam is a form of fig preserves that includes whole chunks of figs which have been cooked until they have softened. Fig jam can be used like other jams as a fruit spread for toast, scones, cakes, and other baked goods, and it can also be used as a condiment for savory foods. Fig jam, for example, pairs well with turkey, chicken, and creamy cheeses like Brie. Some stores sell fig jam, especially in Europe, where this particular form of jam is very popular, and it can also be made at home.
In order to be considered a jam, a fruit preserve must contain chopped whole fruit, as opposed to just fruit juice or pieces of fruit. Many people also believe that jam should only contain one type of fruit, rather than a mixture. In the case of fig jam, the preserve includes figs which may be peeled or left unpeeled, depending on personal taste.
Like other jams, fig jam is made by heating cleaned and chopped figs with sugar and a small amount of water, and cooking until the fruit starts to break down. Many cooks also include lemon zest and a small amount of salt for flavor, although this is not required. As the figs break apart and soften, they release their natural pectin, the substance which causes a jam to firm up. Some people add more pectin, to ensure that the jam will set, although this is not necessary.
Once the fruit has softened, the fig jam may be canned immediately, or run through a food mill to create an even texture before being canned. Some cooks opt for “refrigerator preserves,” making small batches of jam which need to be kept in the fridge because they are not sealed in sterile, heated jars. True preserves will keep for up to a year in a cool dry place, assuming that the jars are properly sterilized and safely sealed, while refrigerator preserves need to be eaten within a week or so.
Like figs themselves, fig jam has a very sweet flavor and it often has a slightly grainy texture from the tiny seeds inside the figs. Fig jam is also very rich, and the color may vary from almost black to green, depending on the variety of figs used. Some fig jams have a rich ruby-red color, which can be quite striking.