A tradition in my family growing up was making jelly with my great grandmother. We would bring dewberries from Brenham and drive them to my great grandparents’ home in the Texas Hill Country. The women in the family would keep a big pot of sticky sweet dark purple dewberries boiling between making meals, cleaning up, visiting, and playing Shoot the Moon or Kings in the Corner. At times there were five generations of us in my great grandmother’s kitchen, all working together on the jelly, and maintaining the tradition that inspired an annual gathering of relatives. Everyone left with jars for their own homes, and my grandmother had a stash in her pantry that would last her and my grandfather most of the year.
In my yard, I don’t have dewberries yet (I am actually waiting for a bramble to mature), but I do have delicious figs that arrive every year in June and July. We had our first crop harvested two weeks ago, and I have started a new tradition of making a batch of fig preserves in honor of those days with my grandmother.
Our fig trees are well established, and apparently they grandfathered many of the other fig trees in the neighborhood after the former owner of our home would give away shoots.
Fun Facts about Figs
Figs are a member of the mulberry family, and they are one of the oldest cultivated fruit crops. They’re believed to have been a part of mankind’s diet from the start. Figs came to California and Texas with settlers from Spain, and today they thrive in pretty much any part of Texas with proper care. Figs produce with lots of water, sun and well drained soil. Figs are technically not really fruit, but rather an enlarged part of a plant’s stem. 
Figs are referenced symbolically in most of the major religions, including Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Judaism and Buddhism, representing fertility, peace and prosperity. <3 
High in potassium, iron, fiber and calcium, figs are considered a “high-antioxidant food”. They have polyphenols, which help combat oxidative stress. In fact, a study by the Department of Natural Medicinal Chemistry at China Pharmaceutical University shows that some elements contained in figs are toxic to various human cancer cell lines. Properties from figs show a lot of promise in helping develop treatments for digestive, endocrine, reproductive and respiratory systems. Figs also have antimicrobial properties.  A review by the Drug and Herbal Research Centre at the Universiti Kebangsaan in Malaysia cited two studies that showed fig extract’s ability to combat a strand of oral bacteria, as well as various fungi and microbes. (5)
Easy Fig Preserves
Ingredients: Sterilized Mason Jars and lids, Figs (approx 3-4 cups), Sugar, Raw Honey, Lemon, two large pots
- Gently wash figs and cut the stem off the top of each
- Squeeze the juice from 2-3 lemons into pot with the figs
- Optional: Slice 2-3 thin slices of lemon with rind to boil with the figs.
- Place in a pot with about 1/2 cup filtered water.
- Stir in desired amount of coconut sugar (or other sugar), depending on your “sweetness” preference. I did a 1/4 cup coconut sugar + about 1/4 cup of raw honey.
- Bring to a gentle boil and then lower heat to simmer for 45 minutes. Stir occasionally to check consistency.
- Drain excess liquid off and reserve it in a glass.
- Remove lemon rinds before blending.
- Pulse the mixture in a food processor + a few TBSP of the reserved liquid.
- Return the preserves to the pot and continue simmering and stirring until desired consistency is reached (add TBSPs of reserved liquid as needed or desired).
- Fill the larger pot with water and bring it to a boil for sealing jars.
- Fill the mason jars – I usually use 4 ounce or 8 ounce size and loosely tighten the lids.
Place the filled, loosely sealed mason jars standing upright into the boiling water bath (I use just enough water to reach just under the bottom of the mason jar lids).
Let the water gently boil for 10 minutes.
Carefully remove the jars from the bath and place them on a towel to dry and cool. Tighten lids as they cool.
You will know the jar has sealed when you hear a “pop” and the lid of the jar flattens and no longer has an air pocket. Your preserves should keep up to a year in the pantry if they properly seal. If they do not properly seal, they will keep about 1-2 weeks in the refrigerator.
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