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?
Here 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.
(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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