Sunday, 26 February 2012

Bumper Season for Figs on Ochre Arch

At the edge of the creek we have 3 fig trees which we think may have been growing there for over 100 years, seen in the following photograph.

Each year we have had some figs on the trees but they have all either dropped off or been eaten by birds. For some reason this year has been very different and we have been inundated with fruit. Here is a photograph of a recently picked bucketful.

So far we’ve picked 5 bucketfuls. Jan has cooked 4 lots (3 into jam and another as preserves) and we have given away 1.

Two particularly interesting things about figs:
1. The ‘fruit’ is not actually fruit but rather inside-out flowers
2. The sap from the tree and fruit is for some people quite itchy when it gets on the skin (like yours truly’s!)

Our normal appliance we use for cooking jam is our gas oven. Given that we are on a remote power supply driven off solar and wind we have just purchased a portable electric double cooker. Using this means that we basically have zero cooking costs.

The recipe Jan is using for the jam comes from her grandmother’s cookbook. Here’s a photo from the book of the actual recipe.

The recipe Jan has used reads as follows:
a. Peel and slice sufficient figs to produce 2.75 kg (6lbs) of figs ready to cook
b. Combine 2.2 kg (4.5 lbs) sugar, 775 ml (1.5 pints) water and 1 cup white vinegar into a boiler
c. Bring contents of the boiler to boiling temperature and maintain for 10 minutes.
d. Add figs to the syrup (above) and boil gently for 3.5 to 4 hours.
e. Bottle contents once ready.

Here's a photo of the figs after they've been peeled.

... and here's a photo of the scraps, which we place of bare soil to add organic matter and in time enhance soil condition.

We use a very old and conventional boiler, seen here with sugar added.

The following photo shows the boiler contents, taken just after the figs were added to the syrup.

After about 4 hours the figs are cooked into jam, seen in the following photo, with quite a bit of the liquid having evaporated. It's also not a bad shot of the electric portable double hotplate, running on solar energy.

Here's the final product ...
The jam is superb to taste and we've taken to adding fig jam and camembert on savoury biscuits. Yum!

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