Fig season is coming to a close here in southeast Arkansas, but there’s still time for Fig Pepper Jelly making. This summer fruit is my favorite and I was happy to eat some from our very own fig tree this year. Just a few at a time since she’s only 2 feet high, but looking forward to next year’s bountiful crop. In fact, she’s still making new figs and it’s the end of July. Woohoo!
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If you aren’t familiar with the fig tree then let me introduce her to you. She is a classic southern fruit bearer known for her large, bright green leaves and round fruit. Her produce is sweet when fully ripened and has edible skin. Her leaves fill the tree in early spring adding much shade to the yard in summer. In autumn she sheds her leaves leaving skeleton branches in winter that extend from the bottom to the top of her trunk all the way up to the sky. She needs lots of room to grow to accommodate her spreading boughs as she ages. This makes for a great climbing tree in her mature state.
Because of her popularity in southern yards, I am not alone in remembering days spent playing in her sturdy limbs. This is something I look forward to seeing my own grandchildren do in our young fig tree all grown up one day.
For more fig facts go to the Fig Cake post along with other fig recipes posted here on the blog.
A Fig Pepper Jelly
I must give thanks to my cousin, Liz, for this recipe idea. Our visits are always fun and include conversations about food. She can cook like her Mama and our Grandma George and is always up on the best and most popular Cajun dishes. She’s also a wealth of information on where to find those special ingredients. The Fig Pepper Jelly was something she mentioned at our last visit. Not having a recipe on hand, she suggested I use google to find one.
The recipes I found included green peppers and other fruit, but I really wanted the fig flavor to stand out. After experimenting with green bell peppers in the first batch I decided to exclude them and use only figs with jalapeno peppers. I also added some honey along with the sugar to sweeten it up. The warmth from the honey is just what was needed.
A pepper jelly to top off a cool block of cream cheese made with figs, jalapeno peppers, and honey for a warm, sweet finish. You can eat it this way with crackers or use the jelly as a dip for chicken strips, a sweet and sour sauce, or warmed up over ice cream.
2 cups fresh or frozen figs, crushed after rinsed and stems removed
2 whole jalapeno peppers, cut stem off and discard
1/2 cup white vinegar
2 cups sugar
1 cup honey
1 teaspoon butter, to keep jelly from foaming
1 1.75 ounce box Sure Jell
Rough chop peppers and process in chopper or food processor until they are diced fine.
Sterilize five half-pint jars in the dishwasher or in a pot of boiling water on the stove.
Add figs, peppers, vinegar, sugar, honey, and butter to a heavy sauce pan. Bring to a boil with frequent stirring then add Sur Jell. Boil and stir for 1 minute. Turn off heat and ladle into hot, sterilized jars.
Top jar openings with round seals and screw on lids and process in boiling water for 5 minutes. Remove jars from water onto a clean towel covering countertop and let cool.
Be sure not to inhale fumes of diced peppers.
Listen for the pop of the lids that ensure preserving as they cool.
Use safe home food preservation methods.
Makes 5 one-half pints.
Of course, the best way to serve pepper jelly is mounded on top of a cool, creamy block of cream cheese as a spread with your favorite cracker. Yum!
You can also serve the Fig Pepper Jelly as a dipping sauce for chicken strips, a sweet and sour sauce, or warmed up and poured over ice cream. The last one may seem a bit odd, but not for some!
Love is a fruit in season at all times, and within reach of every hand. Mother Teresa