We make sure to get a good rotation of fruits and vegetables into our diet and not eat the same thing every week. So in this pursuit, I bought a whole load of figs when I chanced upon them. And then broke my head over what to make before they rotted on me. Typical. Nothing new to see here.

Making a batch of jam brings me pleasure like little else. There’s just something about the whole process – slicing up a large glut of fruit and watching it transform into the most glorious squidgy pulp. I say ‘stir occasionally’ in the recipe below and that’s what’s required, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll be hovering around the pot and checking on it every five minutes. I’m barely able to contain myself the whole time. There’s a reason I say I’m meant to be a homesteader.

Figs and balsamic. Classic pairing. The sweetness of the fruit really complements the viscous almost caramel notes of the balsamic. When cooked down, the vinegar reduces and clings to the fruit giving you that very desirable ‘set’. There’s sugar in here too, it’s jam after all, but it’s not jam in the conventional, one-dimensional sweet way. I find most commercial jams too cloying for my taste. The amount of sugar here is minimal to begin with and also adjusted to the tartness of the fruit (always taste your fruit before you set out to jam it). The balsamic with its assertive tang counters the sweetness too.

The internet is awash with recipes featuring figs and balsamic, but we are partial to eating them on goat’s cheese slathered crostini for breakfast.


Servings: 3 cups


  • 1 kilo ripe figs
  • ¾ cup brown sugar
  • ½ cup balsamic vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt


  • Remove the stems from the figs and chop each fig into 6-8 pieces. Place them in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Stir in the balsamic vinegar, brown sugar and salt.
  • Cook covered over a low heat stirring occasionally to make sure they don’t catch at the bottom. You want the figs to break down and reduce down to almost half their original quantity. This may take anywhere from 35-50 mins depending on the thickness and size of your pot.
  • Cook uncovered for a further 5-10 mins to thicken the vinegar and juices.
  • Use a masher to break down the figs and continue cooking until the jam thickens to a spreadable consistency. The jam will continue to thicken as it cools.
  • Cool completely before decanting into glass jars. Can be kept refrigerated for up to 3 weeks.


If your figs are not ripe enough, you may need to cook them for longer until they break down. Ripe figs also tend to be sweeter than under ripe ones, so taste and add more sugar if need be.

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