Figs can trace their history back to the earliest of times with mentions in the Bible and other ancient writings. They are thought to have been first cultivated in Egypt. They spread to ancient Crete and then subsequently, around the 9th century BC, to ancient Greece, where they became a staple foodstuff in the traditional diet. Figs were held in such esteem by the Greeks that they created laws forbidding the export of the best quality figs. Figs were also revered in ancient Rome where they were thought of as a sacred fruit. According to Roman myth, the wolf that nurtured the twin founders of Rome, Romulus and Remus, rested under a fig tree. During this period of history, at least 29 varieties of figs were already known.
Figs were later introduced to other regions of the Mediterranean by ancient conquerors and then brought to the Western Hemisphere by the Spaniards in the early 16th century. In the late 19th century, when Spanish missionaries established the mission in San Diego, California, they also planted fig trees. I have heard rumours that fig trees grow well in the Okanagan but they are not available commercially, to my knowledge.
This recipe makes a really sweet jam, but then, figs are incredibly sweet to begin with.
Two Cups of Fig Jam
2 lbs of figs (1 kg)
3 cups sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
Rinse the figs and then cut off the stem. Cut fig into small pieces. Add lemon juice and sugar and place on stove. Bring to a simmer for 10 minutes. Put contents into fridge and let sit overnight. The next day, return to pot and cook until set. Be careful not to overcook as you will get a gummy mess.
With Mission figs, I add vone small orange (mandarin or Clementine preferred) to the mixture before I cook it. I run it through the food processer first.
With green figs, I place one vanilla pod, cut open, in the mixture before I simmer it the first time. Leave the vanilla pod in the jam, and remove when jam is fully cooked.
In the meantime, you have washed a big jar in hot, soapy water, and placed it in a 250ºF oven for 10 minutes. Take it out and fill with the hot jam. Let cool on the counter and then refrigerate.