Fig marmalade is a fruit preserve that is made from the juice, flesh and skin of figs, a type of sweet and soft tree fruit. The marmalade has numerous versions, with multiple preparation methods and ingredients. Its basic ingredients include figs, sugar and water. Depending on the recipe and the terms used, fig marmalade might also be called fig jam, although the two foods technically are different. Fig marmalade usually is eaten as a spread on breads or crackers.
Like other types of marmalade, fig marmalade is made by boiling ripened fruit with water and sugar. Traditionally, marmalade is made from citrus fruits, but, as in the case of figs, the term extends to preserves of other types of fruit. Unlike jam, marmalade contains fruit peel, giving it a slightly pulpy texture. In fig marmalade, the thin skin might be barely noticeable because of its softness after boiling.
Fig marmalade is prepared by harvesting or purchasing very ripe figs, because they have sweeter flesh and softer skin. The fruit stem is removed, and some cooks cover the fig in sugar and let it sit overnight. Chopped fig is mixed with water and sugar, if it wasn't initially covered in it, then boiled for at least 30 minutes. The cooked mixture typically is blended and rubbed through a coarse sieve to achieve a finer texture. Gelatin, gelatin substitute or citrus fruit might be added for a thicker-set marmalade and to vary texture and flavor.
The marmalade's main ingredient, the fig, is from a tree native to southwest Asia and the Mediterranean, and the fruit is shaped like a pear, egg or acorn, depending on the variety. Its color ranges from yellowish green to dark purple. A common fig usually is medium to dark purple in color when being used for marmalade, and the skin might have begun to wrinkle. The inside of the fruit is pinkish and divided into two long sections that are filled with hundreds of tiny, soft, white seeds. Unlike raspberry preserves, fig marmalade has no grainy texture or crunch because the seeds are very soft.
Marmalade began as a mixture of honey and quince fruit, a relative of apples and pears, in ancient Greek and Roman cuisine. Quince and other fruit preserves evolved into marmalade, with the term being used exclusively for citrus marmalades beginning in the 17th century, although other languages do not delineate between citrus fruit preserves and other types of fruit preserves. The root of the word "marmalade," the Latin melimelum, means "honey apple," which is a reference to the food's origins.