Saturday, 24 December 2011

Candied Figs, Sikalaki gliko

above: candied figs with ginger
below: ginger sugar

I have a fig tree that specialises in producing unripe figs. To be fair it has produced some ripe figs too. The figs from the first crop ripen well and are large. Those from the second crop are plentiful, small and don't usually ripen. This year we had an usually warm April and October and the tree has produced a supply of ripe figs from July to November. We ate them fresh from the tree and I made fig chutney and fig jam too.
I picked the last few that hadn't ripened and this year found a recipe on a Greek food blog for candied figs that requires unripe figs. Figs are preserved in this way in Greece and Turkey. My recipe below is based on this one here Mama's Taverna  

I made some additions and I used less sugar. For the first batch I added lemon zest to the vanilla and cloves. For the second batch I added ginger and cloves. I made some ginger sugar by blitzing about 1 oz peeled root ginger with the sugar till the root ginger disappeared. It smelt wonderful.
I used this to make the syrup. Next time I will try it with a bit more ginger.
The recipe has several stages but each one doesn't take too long and the end product is well worth it.

My Version of Candied Figs   update 2014

3lb unripe figs
The syrup
3lb golden granulated sugar (or substitute  1lb with muscovado sugar)
3 cups water
Juice and zest of 1 large lemon
TIP to get more juice out of a lemon I tried Mary Berry's method. Cut the lemon in half widthways and microwave on high for 30 sec then squeeze.
cinnamon 2 sticks, cloves a desert spoonful.
root ginger 3-4 in peeled or unpeeled and chopped into several pieces.
if you don't like spices try vanilla.

1. Using a skewer make a hole in the side of each fig
    The stalks can be removed or left on. I remove them at this stage. Leave to soak in cold water for several hours.

2. Boil the figs in plenty of water for 15 min. (I wouldn't risk using a a non stick pan as the white juice that comes out is latex and very sticky and you may need to use a scourer.)
Throw the water away and replace with cold water. When the figs are cool throw this water away too.
3. Repeat 2    Clean the pan to remove the latex residue. See tip below
4. Make the syrup. If you are using ginger, cut it into pieces and blitz it in a liquidiser with some of the sugar. I don't peel it any more, it just disappears into the sugar. Add this to the rest of the sugar and the 3 cups of water. Stir and bring to the boil. Add the lemon zest, cinnamon and cloves.
5. Add the figs and boil for 15 min. Leave to cool and leave to soak for 12 hours.
6. Remove the figs from the syrup. Add the lemon juice to the syrup and boil till it begins to thicken a little. This could take 20-30 min
7. Put some jars and lids on a baking tray in a low oven to sterilise.
8. Put the figs back into the syrup and boil for another 15-20min The temperature of the syrup should be around 105C, 220F
9. Use a large spoon or ladle to transfer the figs to the hot jars. Pack in as many as you can and divide the syrup between the jars. Seal by tightly screwing on the hot lids as soon as you can.

above  ladling the syrup into the jars of figs

They are ready to eat as soon as you want or if properly sealed keep for ages.
Usually the lids make a pop sound after 10-20 mins as the lid pulls back, then you know they are well sealed.

Try them with ice cream and liqueur of your choice.

TIP The pan you boil the figs in will have a sticky residue left on it. You could use elbow grease and a scourer as long as it's not a non stick pan but much easier is to put some cooking oil on a cloth and wipe the pan out with that and the gunk comes off easier. Thanks Rachel for this tip.

Update 2015
This year I doubled the amount of figs and used a lime as well as a lemon. I didn't double the amount of water to cut down the time reducing the syrup.