Fig Chutney

Ah… Fig season… For those who are lucky enough to have a fig tree in the backyard, this means a bounty of plump, juicy, sweet, meaty fruits. But wait a minute… What about all the sugar?

Figs are delicious and full of nutrients. From their color, you can guess that they are replete with “cyans” (our generic term for anthocyanidins, anthocyanins and other similarly named purple-blue substances). But from their taste, it’s obvious that they are loaded with sugar. So you feel guilty eating them… And you feel guilty wasting them. Of course you could give them to your friends, but there is the ethical issue: is it right to feed others what you won’t eat?

We have been told time and again that fruit is good for us. And indeed, given the choice between a doughnut and fruit, one should definitely go for the fruit. However, in the context of a nutrient-rich, real food diet, fruit is not as important, since it contains no nutrient that you couldn’t get elsewhere, while packing a fairly large quantity of sugar.

IT’S WORTH REPEATING: Fruits are delicious! But there is nothing unique in them: you can find all the same nutrients, with less sugar, in the colorful nutrient-dense vegetables. Contrary to the widespread belief that fruits are essential to our diet, we don’t need fruit, provided we follow a colorful, nutrient-rich diet.


figsHere is a good way to extricate yourself out of this distressing dilemma: preserves allow you to spread the consumption of the sugary treat throughout the year, and share it with your friends too. In limited amounts, fruit relishes are an amazing way to bring nutrition and variety to the table. The spices are also an important contributor to our health and, without being magical, possess unique medicinal effects.

Fig Chutney

(Adapted from Emeril Lagasse’s recipe – Makes 8 1-pint jars)

  • 2 1/2 pounds firm, slightly underripe fresh figs
  • 4 cups vinegar of your choice (not balsamic, though)
  • 16 oz brown sugar (yes, that’s a lot…)
  • 2 medium onions, chopped
  • ⅔ cup chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 organic lemon zests, chopped
  • 3 ½ teaspoons salt
  • 3 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground allspice
  • ½ teaspoon ground cloves

1. Wash the figs, remove the hard stems and halve the figs.

2. In a large saucepan, combine all the other ingredients (but not the figs) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until mixture is thickened and reduced by 2/3, forming a thick syrup.

3. Add the figs and cook gently until the figs are very soft and beginning to fall apart and most of the liquid has evaporated, about 30 minutes to 1 hour.

4. Ladle hot chutney into hot sterilized canning jars and process in a hot-water bath according to manufacturer’s directions.

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Author: Lien Nguyen

Liên is the author of several cookbooks that blend food with history, culture and health.

2 thoughts on “Fig Chutney”

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