Southern Snacks Cookbook

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook

I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Fig, Bourbon and Vanilla Bean Jam

Canning is a new passion for me.  I’ve had fits and starts about it over the years, lots of failures, lots of time spent making jams or relishes only to forget about them and never use them. But after all that trial and error, I have finally got the knack of it and have had mostly successes, and a great deal of enjoyment from what I have produced.  I have even gained the confidence to experiment with my own concoctions, and this is one of my favorites.  It’s rich with figs, set off with the warmth of vanilla and a depth from the bourbon.

I like using the slow cooker for making this.  It is pretty hands off, and clean-up is relatively easy.  This method is also a little forgiving as it will stay at temperature and there doesn’t need to be that frantic rushing to fill the jars at just the right moment.  I also use an immersion blender for this, but if you don’t have one, chop the figs smaller and try a potato masher or a really sturdy spoon to mash up the figs. You will get a slightly chunkier product.

I love this jam on an English muffin.  And fresh, warm buttermilk biscuits – oh lordy.  But this is also a very sophisticated accompaniment to a cheese and charcuterie tray.  It makes a great glaze for pork roast, or serve some on the side.  And of course, it is gorgeous in my Blue Cheese and Fig Savories.  This makes quite a few jars, but it’s worth it since there are so many uses for the jam.  And what an elegant gift!

Fig, Bourbon and Vanilla Bean Jam

3 ½ pounds brown fresh figs, like Celeste or Brown Turkey

2 ¾ pounds granulated sugar

6 Tablespoon lemon juice

5 Tablespoons bourbon

1 vanilla bean

First, place a small ceramic plate in the freezer.  You’ll use this this to test the set of the jam later. Then get your jars clean.  You will need nine half-pint mason jars.  I clean the jars and the rings in the dishwasher, and leave them in there with the door closed to stay warm.  You can’t put the lids in the dishwasher, it will ruin them.

Quarter the figs, cutting any larger ones into eights and place in the crock of a 6 quart slow cooker.  Add the sugar, the lemon juice and the bourbon and toss to coat. Cover the slow cooker and cook the figs for 2 hours on high. The figs will become nice and syrupy.  Remove the top from the cooker, and using a stick blender, puree the figs until you have a smooth texture with a few small chunks.  Split the vanilla bean open and scrape the seeds into the figs, then drop in the bean. Give the mixture a good stir, then continue to cook the jam, uncovered, for 4 -5 more hours, stirring occasionally.

When the jam has cooked down and is thickened, pull that little plate out of the freezer and spoon a little jam onto it.  Leave to set for a minute, then tilt the plate.  If the jam stays put, or only runs a little bit, it’s ready to go. Also, run a finger through the jam on the plate if the two sides stay separate and don’t run back together, you’re good to go.

While you jam is cooking, get a boiling water canner or big stockpot of water going.  Here are step-by step instructions for processing jam in a canner.  When the jam is almost ready, pour some boiling water over the lids to your jars to soften the seals and set aside.

When the jam has met the set test, turn off the slow cooker. Remove the vanilla bean. I like to ladle the jam into a large measuring jug for easy pouring. Fill each of your warm, cleaned jars with the jam, leaving a ½ inch head space.  Dry the lids with a clean paper towel and place on the jars.  Screw on the bands, then process the jars for 15 minutes in a boiling water bath.  If you have a bit of extra jam, scoop it into a refrigerator container and keep in the fridge for up to a week.

When the jars are processed, leave to cool on a towel on the counter.

The processed jars will keep for a year in a cool, dark place.  Don’t forget to label your jars!

Makes 9 (1/2pint) jars


22 comments to Fig, Bourbon and Vanilla Bean Jam

  • arkie157

    Oh my goodness. This sounds amazing! I love fig jam, but with bourbon!!!! I don’t do a lot of canning, but the slow cooker sounds like I can handle it. Thanks for the recipe.

  • Mrs. M.

    You make it sound so simple! I know it’s good.

  • This sounds like a wonderful condiment. I can just imagine how could it would be on a cheese platter!

  • Wow, this sounds just amazing. What I wouldn’t give for some on a slice of really good toast right now, with a cup of tea.

    My first adventure in canning was a huge disaster. I was trying to make pomegranate jelly and it went so wrong I barely managed to salvage the jars!

    I persevered, though, and I’m glad I did because earlier this year I discovered that I just love figs and fig preserves. Thanks for this recipe, I will be trying it.

  • This sounds amazing. I’ve only got dried figs but I’m game to test them; maybe more bourbon? 🙂

  • Judy

    I recently found someone local selling fresh figs and was ready to try them again after many years. Searched for a recipe, found this one and was determined to try it. I made it yesterday and it is incredible! LOVE that it was made in the slow cooker (I have a couple of ideas for other jams to be made this way). As long as I can find fresh figs this will be a go to recipe. Thank you for sharing.

  • […] for tomato butter, soaking field peas to be pickled and starting a batch of peach-basil jam, with fig, bourbon and vanilla bean jam already simmering in the crockpot, I just kept thinking about that corn and those grits and how […]

  • […] them for the first time at the farmers market each season, I scoop them up and rush home to make Fig, Bourbon and Vanilla Bean Jam.  I usually make another batch the next week.  I have already done that this year, and the fig […]

  • M.E.

    I planted a fig tree three years ago and my first crop is ripening now. I’ve been searching for a worthy recipe and now I have one! Today I made grape butter and
    tomorrow I make fig jam! Let the rains come…. life is good! Thanks.

  • Gatorman76

    Do you remove the skins on the figs or just cut and mash up skins & all?

  • No need to remove the skins!

  • Robin Comfort

    First time I’ve made jam/jelly in 40ish years! While it was time consuming, my house smelled wonderful and it was very easy! And was totally gratified when I heard all the lids ping!

  • Kimberly

    This sounds great – I can’t wait to try it! One thing – what is your recommendation on cooking on stovetop as opposed to crockpot? Can I just cook it down as I would any other preserve & maybe still use your recommended plate test? I work full time & have young children so the length of time necessary for the crockpot makes it a little harder for me… Thank you!

  • Cook it like any jam on the stovetop and use the plate test. I can’t tell you how long it will take though. Enjoy!

  • Grace

    Can this be made with green figs?

  • I am sure it can. I haven’t done it, but I have used many varieties of brown fig.

  • Amy

    Did not have bourbon and could not find vanilla beans where I live. Substituted vanilla extract and made one batch with Amaretto and one with Cognac. Both turned out very will with different flavors.

  • Linda

    I plan to use your method to make guava paste or jam. First you cook the figs for 2 hours covered, then for another 4-5 hours uncovered, stirring occasionaly. I’d like to cook the last 4-5 hours covered – stirring sometimes. Is this ok to do? Or will it burn? I will be using a VitaClay slow cooker.

  • I’ve never worked with guava, so I am afraid I don’t have a good answer. Cooking the jam uncovered allows for evaporation of the liquid so it gets nice and jammy. Leaving the cover on creates more moisture and makes it difficult to set.

  • […] their short growing season here, I really try to make the most of them. I make jars and jars of Fig, Bourbon and Vanilla Bean Jam. It is one of my signature preserves now, one people always ask me for. My Fresh Fig Cake with […]

  • I’m wondering about the amount of sugar in this recipe. 2 3/4 lbs of sugar is 5 1/4 cups and seems way to high for the amount of figs. I’ve made a couple different fig jam recipes and they are running anywhere from 1/2 to 1 cup of sugar per pound of figs. 1 cup of sugar is 8 ounces where a lb is 16 ounces. I’m using ‘Chicago Hardy’ figs which are smaller but very sweet to start with since they grow well under high tunnel production in my zone 6 region.

  • I’ve been making this for years and think the amount of sugar is just right for sweetness and set. But you could certainly experiment with a less sugar.

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