Fig, Orange and Rosemary Microwave Jam

by Lori on September 21, 2010

Last week when I told you the story about my little fig tree, I realized I wasn’t ready to be done with figs even though my tree had given all it could this year.  So I hit the internet for a little R and D (research and development), and I say that rather loosely because I really don’t need to be inspired when it comes to figs.  I just needed an excuse to drive to Trader Joe’s and buy some, which I did.

The one thing that really stuck with me was fig jam.  Don’t ask me why.  I’ve never had it before.  But many, many months ago I stumbled on a recipe that called for fig jam.  I thought about it then and figured I could possibly make some jam with my figs one day.  I have since misplaced the recipe, which was probably no mistake because the prospect of canning, while intriguing, has intimidated me for years.  As I think about this now, I have to laugh.  I bought a book about canning nearly 15 years ago.  But it sits untouched on a shelf where it gets no cookbook love.  And there it may stay because on my R and D mission, I found something so glorious, so hidden from my curiosity for far too long, that I want to kiss my microwave oven – my least favorite appliance in my kitchen.   I’ll tackle that explanation at another time when I drag you along kicking and screaming delve into my psyche and reveal the 1950’s housewife that lives within me.

For now, I have more important news: Yesterday I made my first jar of homemade jam.  In my microwave.  It was done is 15 minutes.  In addition to sugar and lemon juice, I used fresh figs, orange zest, a little pumpkin pie spice and finely minced fresh rosemary just because 5 years ago I was anxiously planning for my trip to Tuscany and these flavors scream Tuscan Summer to me.  I am in love.  Microwave jam, you are my knight in shining armor.  Swoon.

Remove the stems and dice 1 pound of fresh Black Mission figs.  Put a small plate into your freezer to chill.  You’ll need this later when you test the hot mixture.

Place the diced figs in a 2-quart glass measuring cup or microwave safe bowl.

Add sugar, lemon juice, orange zest, spice, rosemary and butter.  Mix and let sit for 30 minutes.  I went a little crazy with the orange zest.  Don’t be like me.  I held off on the spices and rosemary until I got this part going.  I need to taste as I go when I’m experimenting.  I should have followed my own advice with the orange zest.  Next time I will, and there will definitely be a next time.

Put the measuring cup, showing about 3 cups of liquid at this point, into the microwave.  Set the timer for 15 minutes and begin to stir it after it starts to boil or at 6 to 8 minutes into the cooking time.

After 13 minutes, the mixture should begin to get viscous.  Grab the plate from the freezer and spoon a small amount of mixture onto the plate.

If you can move the mixture around on the plate without it running, it’s done.

You can also see how the mixture slides off the spoon.  If it appears to hang a little as it drips, it’s done.  If you haven’t achieved this and the mixture is still runny, cook it a couple of minutes more.  Mine was done right at 15 minutes, but in my uncertainty, I cooked it a bit longer which resulted in a delicious yet slightly stiffer jam.

When all is said and done, you will have 2 cups of jam that you can pour into your canning jar(s).

Make sure to leave 1/4-inch of headroom from the top of the jar.  Seal it up and let it sit on the counter to cool.  Refrigerate or place in your cupboard based on specifications in recipe below.

Next time, I will increase the amount of rosemary a bit more.  I see the flecks here and there, but the flavor wasn’t as pronounced as I would have liked, that may be because the other spices overwhelmed it.  Still, something to play around with next time.

Fig, Orange and Rosemary Microwave Jam
Thank you to “mfrances” on the Chowhound forum for bringing this possibility to my attention, and thank you to Elise at Simply Recipes for steering me in the right direction.  But the biggest thanks goes to that 1979 issue of Sunset Magazine that published the microwave jam method in the first place.

1 pound fresh Black Mission figs, large diced with stems removed
1 1/2 cups sugar (reduce if you want, though it won’t set as well)
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange peel
3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon finely minced fresh rosemary
1/2 teaspoon butter

2 8-ounce canning jars (I used 1 16-ounce canning jar)

Place the ingredients in a large microwave safe ceramic or glass bowl or 2-quart glass measuring cup, stir to combine and allow to sit for 30 minutes so the fruit can macerate in the sugar.

Place in microwave.  You will cook the fruit mixture on the high setting for approximately 15 minutes.  As soon as the mixture starts to boil, after about 6 to 8 minutes, open the microwave door and stir.  Continue cooking and stir every few minutes.  At about 13 minutes the mixture should start to get viscous.  If you spoon out a bit onto a small plate that has been in the freezer, you can push the mixture around a bit with your finger tip to see how thick it is.  If it’s runny, cook it a couple minutes more.  You can also check by seeing how the jam runs off of a spoon.  If it seems to firm up a bit as it drips, it’s done.

If you use a large glass measuring cup, you can see that you start with close to 3 cups of liquid.  You want to boil it down to 2 cups.

Pour the jam into jar(s), leaving 1/4-inch of headroom from the top of the jar(s).  If you want to keep your jam in a cupboard, then use sterilized jars (heat them in the oven at 200 degrees F for 10 minutes).  If you plan to eat up quickly and keep it in the refrigerator, then regular clean jars will do. 

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