September 2010

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I used ready to eat figs for this recipe, it is quick and the figs are moist, they do not require pre-soaking or re-boiling. It is a very sustaining and versatile jam. It could be eaten on its own as a dessert, with bread, or even with cheese. The addition of anis seeds, miskeh (see glossary) and toasted sesame seeds adds to the jammy texture, a delightful nutty taste. Make sure the sugar is well dissolved before adding the figs, as this will help the jam to set smoothly. Because figs come whole, I usually make a cross- incision to open them up, it helps them to absorb the flavours of other ingredients and cooks better. Alternatively, just chop the figs into quarters.


Facts about jam making.


  • The presence of pectin in fruit, along with the sugar, help to set the jam. However, some fruits like figs have a lower pectin content, therefore, adding lemon juice is necessary as it helps the jam to set and enhances the taste of the fruit.  


  • Testing the setting point for jam. Put a saucer in the fridge before you start cooking. Spoon a small amount of the hot jam onto the saucer, let it cool for a few seconds then push it with your finger. If the surface wrinkles, it means the jam has set. If using jam thermometer, the setting point is 105°C/ 221°F.


  • Do not attempt to remove any scum during the cooking process. Wait until the end, when you switch off the heat, stir in a knob of butter which will get rid of it.


  • If well stored, jams keep for roughly a year.


If you like to read about pectin in fruits and jams, here are suggested websites:





  • 500 g/  1lb 2oz   ready to eat dried figs
  • 150 g/   5 oz   sugar
  • 300 ml/ 10 fl oz  water
  • 1 tbsp anis seeds
  • ¼ tsp ground miskeh (see glossary)
  • 3 tbsp lemon juice
  • 30 g/  1 1/8  oz  sesame seeds
  • 25 g/ 1 oz  almond flakes (optional)


You also need, two jam jars (about 227g/ 8oz capacity), two wax discs, cellophane and string.




  1. Prepare the figs. Make a cross incision with the knife and open them up with your fingers or chop into quarters. Keep on one side.
  2. Using a low heat setting, warm up the water in the preserving pan, mix in sugar, anis seeds, miskeh and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once this is achieved, add the figs, two tbsp lemon juice and stir the mixture. Increase the heat to the boiling point, then reduce and let it simmer very gently, stirring occasionally, for about twenty-five to thirty minutes. At that stage, it should thicken reaching a jammy consistency.
  3. While the jam is cooking, toast the sesame seeds using a low heat until they become a golden colour. Do likewise with the flaked almonds, if using.
  4. A couple of minutes before taking the jam off the heat, stir in the remaining lemon juice, then add the sesame seeds, flaked almonds and mix.    
  5. Leave to stand for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, put the jars in a low heat oven then, when ready, spoon the jam into the warmed jars, fill them right to the top. Cover with wax discs. Next, dampen lightly one side of the cellophane and put it on top of the jar, (dampened side up) securing it with a string.
  6. When completely cold, label the jars and keep in a cool, dry, and dark place.


The way to proceed with very dried figs.


For the same amount used above, soak the chopped figs in 1.75 litres/ 3 pints of water, the night before. The next day, put the figs with their soaking water into a preserving pan, bring to the boil then simmer until they feel soft, stirring occasionally, it takes about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, dissolve the sugar in 100ml of hot water, add it to the softened figs, along with 2 tbsp of lemon juice, anis seeds and miskeh, then continue following stage two onwards. If any scum forms during cooking, wait till you take the pan off the heat and stir in a knob of butter.