What is Fig Jam?

Mary McMahon

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.

Dried figs.
Dried figs.

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.

Figs growing on the tree.
Figs growing on the tree.

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Discussion Comments


@all: Caster sugar has a texture somewhere between conventional granulated sugar and confectioner’s sugar. It is used quite often for baking products because it dissolves very easily and creams readily. Caster sugar makes great meringues.

Your next question was how much is 500 grams of caster sugar? In the English conversion system, it would equal about 2 ½ cups. Sorry for the mix-up. Okay, the next question was where to purchase a vanilla bean. If your local supermarket doesn’t carry the vanilla bean, you might have to look elsewhere, such as the internet. Since I use vanilla beans a lot in my recipes, I just happened to have some around. You can find them fairly inexpensive if you buy them during the right time of the year.

I hope that I haven’t confused anyone else. I just recently moved to the states from England. Trust me, I’m as confused as you are! Good luck with the jam.


I'm chuckling right now! I'm not sure where everyone that posts on here is from but I have no idea what that recipe means! First of all, how much is a kg of figs? Next, what is caster sugar and how much is 500 grams of it? And where in the world would I find a single vanilla bean? I'm just saying. I would love to try it out. Just don't know how to read the ingredients. Any help would be appreciated.


@purplespark: I will gladly share my family’s recipe for homemade fig jam. We love to eat it with crumpets in the mornings. It’s quite easy to put together. I would recommend having the following ingredients together:

1 kg ripe figs (trimmed and chopped), 500g caster sugar, 1 vanilla bean (split and seeds scraped), 1 cinnamon quill, and a pared rind and juice of 1 lemon.

Place the ingredients in a bowl. Cover and let stand overnight at room temperature. Transfer to a pan over low heat and stir to dissolve the sugar. Bring to a boil and then cook over very low heat, stirring regularly. It usually takes about 45 minutes or until it is sticky and thick. Mash the figs gently with a fork or a potato masher to break up a little. Remove the vanilla pod, quill, and rind, then cool slightly. Seal in sterilized jars. They store for up to 3 months.


Does anyone have a homemade fig jam recipe?

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