A grazing board of spiced fig and pear jam on sliced baguette with brie and cheddar cheeses.
Sauces, dressings & jam

Spiced fig and pear jam

8 comments

Spiced fig and pear jam is a delicious spread perfect for entertaining and pairing with a variety of cheeses. This recipe for spiced fig and pear jam is infused with warm spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and a hint of cloves. Fall is in the air and this jam is a lovely introduction to those warmer, spicier flavors we begin to crave as the season changes. It is particularly tasty served with Brie cheese or Beecher’s Flagship cheese on baguette. It also makes a nice accompaniment to roasted chicken, turkey or pork.

A grazing board of spiced fig and pear jam on sliced baguette with brie and cheddar cheeses.
Spiced fig and pear jam served with cheese and fruit

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I was lucky enough to have a friend share some figs with me from her backyard fig tree. When fresh homegrown fruit is in abundance at the end of the summer it is always a rush to find a way to preserve these delicious fruits. Small batch jams or preserves is a great way to do this. There is no fancy equipment really needed other than canning jars, a couple of large pots and tongs.

Most fresh figs that you see in our local grocery stores come from California, however they are also grown and sourced from Washington and Oregon. Local pears of course are readily available in the late summer. You can use any kind of pear you like for this recipe. My only recommendation is to use an organic pear if possible since I do not peel the pear. I use the natural pectin in the peel to help the jam “gel.” I used a medium to large sized Bartlett pear which are rather sweet and juicy when they are ripe.

Cheese and fruit board with olives, fresh figs, fig jam, bread and cheeses.
Include fresh fruit whenever possible on a cheese board

Cheese and fruit boards are a favorite of mine for entertaining or late afternoon snacking. They make a great appetizer that keeps everyone happy while a heartier dinner is being prepared. There are no hard or fast rules about cheese boards, but it is nice to offer a variety of flavors and textures within the following categories: Sweet, salty, savory and spicy. Serve with sliced baguette or a variety of crackers. In this cheese board, grapes, fresh fig slices and the spiced fig and pear jam cover the “sweet” category. My “salty” and “spicy” items include olives, spiced mixed pickled vegetables and a peppery cheese (Beecher’s Marco Polo). Cheese such as a mild Brie and a medium-cheddar (Beecher’s Flagship) cover the “savory” category.

Spiced fig and pear jam on bread with brie cheese. Figs and cheese in the background.
Select mild, medium and spicy cheeses

If you are nervous about canning, I’m here to tell you don’t sweat it! Small batch preserving is a great way to learn the ropes and experiment with canning without investing in too much equipment or giving up too much pantry space for storage. You’ll yield between 5 and 6 small jars of jam with this recipe. I prefer to use these smaller round 8 oz Ball Canning Jars. They fit easily into a large pot and a smaller quantity of jam is easier to use up once the jar is opened.

The process for making homemade spiced fig and pear jam is relatively simple. However, do plan ahead and give yourself time for each stage. I used The Complete Book of Small-Batch Preserving: Over 300 Recipes to Use Year-Round as a guide for navigating and learning my way around tips for canning and making jam.

The first step involves preparing the fruit. Trim the tops off the figs. Cut the figs and pear into small pieces. Leave the skin on. Remove seeds and core from the pear. Next, combine the fruit, sugar, spices and lemon juice together in a non-metallic bowl, cover and let it sit on the counter for six hours or in the fridge overnight. The next step is to sterilize and prepare the jars. You may have a sterilize function on your dishwasher or I find it just as easy to bring a large pot of water to boil. Using tongs, gently place the jars and lids in the boiling water for two minutes. Remove and allow the jars to dry on a clean kitchen towel. Next, we prepare the jam. Begin by adding a little water to the fruit mixture and bring the fruit to a low boil. This is the most time-consuming part of the process as the fruit needs to gently simmer until it forms a gel. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes. I find this to be the trickiest part of the process. I use a potato masher to break up the fruit as it cooks. You’ll notice I don’t add commercial pectin. Instead, the gel occurs from the combination of sugar, natural pectin found in the skin of the fruit and the acid (lemon juice). You need the right ratio of fruit to sugar to acid for this to occur.

How to test for a gel formation

There are two methods ~ the freezer test and the spoon test. I’ve had more success with the freezer test.

  1. Freezer: Put two small plates into the freezer ahead of time. Once the cooked fruit mixture begins to thicken test for gel formation by putting a spoonful of the hot fruit onto a chilled plate. Place it back in the freezer for 2 minutes. If it is sufficiently cooked, it will form a gel that moves slowly as the plate is tilted. If it runs off the plate, cook the fruit mixture another 2 minutes and repeat.
  2. Spoon: Place three metal spoons in the freezer. Dip a chilled metal spoon into the fruit mixture. Immediately lift the spoon up and watch the back of the spoon. The first drops will likely be light and syrupy. As the fruit cooks, these drops of fruit will thicken. It is ready when from a chilled spoon, the mixture “sheets” off the back (two thick drops will form and run together before dropping off). It will form a gel on cooling.

Processing the jam

Once the fruit is cooked, ladle the jam into the sterilized jars. Make sure to leave head space. I leave about 1/4 inch of space. If the jars are too full it can interfere with sealing. Wipe any jam away that has spilled on the rims of the jars with paper towel. Tighten the lids on. Using tongs, immediately place the jars into gently boiling water. The jars should be completely submerged. I usually use a large heavy bottomed pot for this. My Le Creuset Dutch Oven works great for it. Process the jam in the simmering water for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and carefully remove the jars using tongs to a dry kitchen towel on the counter. Allow the jars to cool slowly. Do not dry the jars, just let any water on them naturally evaporate. Do not place jars on a cold hard surface. This allows the pressure to come down on its own. Over time, you will hear a “pop.” As each of the jars seal, the metal lids curve downwards and become airtight. It’s exciting to hear the “pop”! It’s a signal, I’ve done it right. Store the jam in a cool dry place. Once opened, refrigerate the jam.

Spiced fig and pear jam on slices of baguette with brie. Cheddar slices surround.

I look forward to sharing and enjoying this spiced fig and pear jam throughout the fall. Great conversation with friends always begins with a starter of good food. This spiced fig and pear jam will be a great conversation piece while we graze over different fruits and cheeses. I hope you like this spiced fig and pear jam. If you give it a try, please let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Happy cooking,

Michelle

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Spiced fig and pear jam

Recipe by Michelle BarsnessCourse: Sauces, dressings & jamCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Intermediate
Servings

12

servings
Prep time

15

minutes
Cooking time

30

minutes
Calorieskcal

Spiced fig and pear jam is a delicious spread perfect for entertaining and pairing with a variety of cheeses. This recipe for spiced fig and pear jam is infused with warm spices of cinnamon, nutmeg and a hint of cloves.

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs fresh figs (stems removed, cut into small pieces)

  • 1 medium to large pear (Bartlett or Anjou, cored and cut into small pieces, leave skin on)

  • 2 cups white sugar

  • 1 tsp cinnamon

  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg

  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves

  • 1 tbsp lemon juice

  • 3/4 cup water

Directions

  • Combine the fruit, sugar, spices and lemon juice in a non-metallic bowl. Cover and let sit on the counter for six hours or overnight in the fridge.
  • Sterilize the jars. Your dishwasher may have a “sterilize function” or bring a large pot of water to boil. Using tongs, gently place the jars and lids in the boiling water. Leave them for 2 minutes before removing to a dry clean kitchen towel.
  • Place the fruit mixture into a large heavy-bottomed pot. I use my Le Creuset for this. Add the water. Bring the fruit to a boil and stir to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat and allow the fruit to gently simmer for 15 – 20 minutes or until a “gel” consistency is reached. See notes for “gel” test. Use a potato masher to break up the fruit as it cooks.
  • Ladle the jam into the prepared jars. Leave about 1/4 inch of head-space. Wipe the rim of the jars removing any spills with a paper towel. Place the lids on and tighten.
  • Processing the jam: Using tongs, gently submerge the jars into the large pot of boiling water. The jars should be completely submerged. The water should be gently boiling. Process the jam for 10 minutes. Using tongs remove the jars to a clean kitchen towel. Do not place the jars directly onto a cold hard surface. Allow the jars to cool slowly. Do not dry the jars, just let any water on them naturally evaporate. Do not place jars on a cold hard surface. This allows the pressure to come down on its own. Over time, you will hear a “pop.” As each of the jars seal, the metal lids curve downwards and become airtight. Store the jam in a cool dry place. Once opened, refrigerate the jam.
  • How to test for a “gel”: There are two easy methods to test if the jam has reached the right consistency.
  • Freezer test: Put two small plates into the freezer ahead of time. Once the cooked fruit mixture begins to thicken test for gel formation by putting a spoonful of the hot fruit onto a chilled plate. Place it back in the freezer for 2 minutes. If it is sufficiently cooked, it will form a gel that moves slowly as the plate is tilted. If it runs off the plate, cook the fruit mixture another 2 minutes and repeat. OR
  • Spoon test: Place three metal spoons in the freezer. Dip a chilled metal spoon into the fruit mixture. Immediately lift the spoon up and watch the back of the spoon. The first drops will likely be light and syrupy. As the fruit cooks, these drops of fruit will thicken. It is ready when from a chilled spoon, the mixture “sheets” off the back (two thick drops will form and run together before dropping off).  The jam will form a gel on cooling.

Notes

  • Some people insert a small metal rack into their jam processing pot. This means the jars are not directly in contact with the heat on the bottom of the pot. I have never had an issue not using a rack. I also prefer to “boil” or process the jars on a gentle boil or simmer so the jars are not bouncing around. Use caution and your best judgement as equipment and skill levels vary.
  • Did you try this spiced fig and pear jam? I’d love to hear your thoughts at https://www.northwestspoon.com/spiced-fig-and-pear-jam
  • Yield 5 – 6 small jars of jam (8 oz jars)

This recipe is inspired by two recipes, each different but full of fresh ideas. The first is “fresh fig and strawberry jam” in The complete book of small-batch preserving, Firefly Books, 2007. The second recipe is “spiced fig jam” by The Wimpy Vegetarian.

 

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8 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Ooh I love fig jam! But I’ve never thought to make it myself. This would taste amazing with some Brie Cheese!

     
  2. 5 stars
    I am a lover of appetizers that are sweet and savory and the cheese with jam is outstanding! Thanks for sharing!

     
  3. 5 stars
    Delicious recipe. Figs sounds so very interesting and I have to try making this Jam.

     
  4. 5 stars
    A friend brought a similar jam from California and we all raved about it. I thought it ‘s very difficult to make, but you made it looks so easy.

     
  5. 5 stars
    I’ve just discovered how delicious cheese and jams are together! This fig and pear spread is a must-try! Sounds so good!

     
  6. 5 stars
    This was a fantastic spread! We use it on bread and toasts and it’s so good!! Can’t wait to make more!

     
  7. 5 stars
    I love figs, but I’ve never had it in a jam before, I can’t wait to make this and add it to my cheeseboards!

     
  8. 5 stars
    Fabulous jam that will surely make my day (if I make it the day before)! 🙂 I have been really enjoying the fig pear combo lately – so delicious. Works great every time.

     

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