Old Fashioned Southern Style Fig Preserves is a recipe post by Mom Loves Baking.
A Special Gift
My uncle Larry gave me two jars of his homemade Old Fashioned Southern Style Fig Preserves for Christmas and I couldn't have been more excited. You can't buy it in the store. And he even grew the figs himself!
A Family Tradition
Fig preserves remind me of my grandmother. As a kid, every time I went to her house (in Ozark, Alabama), she would have fig preserves in her refrigerator which we would spread over toast for breakfast. They were always made by my aunt Corinne who lived across the street. Aunt Corinne made them every single year and they were always so delicious. She made them with whole figs which came from my grandparents fig tree in their backyard.
Whole Fig Preserves
What's unique about these fig preserves is that it uses WHOLE figs. They are not mashed up or pureed like jam. But in the cooking process, they get really soft and are completely spreadable. When serving, you just spoon a few figs onto your buttered toast and spread them around with your knife. It's very easy to spread and tastes SO good!
My grandparents passed away in the late 1980s and then aunt Corinne in the mid 1990s (she was 92). I miss them a lot. Here I am with my grandparents when I was in high school. They were the sweetest people! That's why it was so special that my uncle Larry took the time to make his own homemade Old Fashioned Southern Style Fig Preserves and share some with me. I got to have my morning toast with those wonderful fig preserves every day from Christmas to New Years! And what sweet memories they brought!
Here's Aunt Corinne and Uncle Larry in her kitchen back in the 1980s. I wonder what they were making that day. Looks like hoe cakes. But that's another blog post. Stay tuned.
An Heirloom Recipe
I actually have a copy of aunt Corinne's vintage recipe which I'm including in this post (see photo below). It's a little hard to read so I typed it out below (simply adding the basic ingredients at the top, plus lemon slices which Larry added).
My Uncle Larry is not only a talented maker of fig preserves, he is also an accomplished author, publisher and the best storyteller I know! I always look forward to his entertaining stories when I'm lucky enough to see him. He's in Mississippi and we are in Georgia. Scroll down to see his bio.
Here's the recipe for Old Fashioned Southern Style Fig Preserves:
Old Fashioned Southern Style Fig Preserves
- 1 gallon Figs
- Sugar equal amounts sugar/figs
- Water enough to cover figs in pot
- Lemon slices Enough to have one slice per jar
- Try to select figs of equal ripeness. Wash.
- Cut stems a wee bit around, do not expose inside of figs. If extra ripe, don’t worry, just get stem.
- Sugar is measure for measure but I like it rounded for figs. So not quite equal measure.
- Put sugar over figs (and lemon slices). Cover. Put aside until morning. (If you cook right away keep your heat low to begin with.) (Water added here.) Water different for juice. I’d say if over night, it will turn into juice so you won’t add much then. If cooking right away, try ¼ measured to fig measure. I like to have juice to cover figs in jars. Left over juice can be used for another cooking of figs.
- Cook slowly. Makes better figs & syrup. Might be longer cooking. You judge by your syrup thickness. Keep boiling gently. Your bubbles will show a good syrup. Little water can be added if juice gets low. Sometimes 2 or so hours. Try a fig.
- Put in jars but don’t seal. Place in hot water bath. Cook until sealed. Will Pop.
Larry also used another recipe for reference called Old Fashioned Fig Preserves by the Bayou Woman.
Lawrence Wells is a co-founder and publisher of Yoknapatawpha Press, an independent press since 1976 in Oxford, MS. His first project there was to edit a photo-biography William Faullkner: The Cofield Collection, which the New York Times named one of the top 10 gift books of 1978. He is co-founder and publisher of The Faulkner Newletter and co-founder of the "Faux Faulkner" parody contest. Wells was awarded the 2014 Faulkner-Wisdom prize for narrative non-fiction at the Words and Music Festival in New Orleans. In 1994 he wrote an Emmy-winning PBS documentary "Return to the River." He has contributed articles to American Way, Southwest Spirit, Art and Antiques and the New York Times Syndicate. He also is the author of two novels, Rommel and the Rebel and Let the Band Play Dixie.
Few more photos...
A young and beautiful Aunt Corinne.
My grandparents' house in Ozark, AL with a fig tree in the backyard.
If you like this recipe for Old Fashioned Southern Style Fig Preserves, use the image below to pin on Pinterest.
Seems like we have similar memories. Mine were in Airton, Alabama. Fresh hot biscuits, whole fig preserves, bacon and coffee. My grandmother “Ma Jessie” was a fabulous cook.
Her pear preserves were amazing too.
Sweet Memories ❤️
Lise Ode says
Thank you for sharing your memories too. My other grandmother made the pear preserves. So good!
Thanks so much for sharing. I have looked for this recipe for years. Just like my grandmother’s.
Lise Ode says
Hi Cathy, So glad you found it!
These fig preserves are amazing!!! I made a smaller batch for my family to try. They are so good that I will be giving them as homemade Christmas gifts this year. Highly recommend!!!
Lise Ode says
That's awesome! So glad to hear!
BZ Smith says
We have a lovely Kadota Fig tree, planted by my grandson in 2011. It has gotten huge since then! Every year we get two seasonal crops with buckets of figs, ripening over several weeks. We pass the fresh figs out to friends and neighbors. This year I decided to find a recipe for Fig Preserves, so here I am at your website! I loved your family story of your recipe's roots, and lingered over the photos. Thank you! Right now the stewed figs are just about ready to eat. Today I'm going to try them spooned on top of some plain Greek yogurt...a truly Mediterranean breakfast!
P.S. I loved reading your Uncle Larry's bio! I'm my family's storyteller, so it's always a joy to read about others!
Lise Ode says
Hello and thank you for your kind comments. How wonderful to have your very own fig tree. I truly wish that we had one. Enjoy the preserves!
Tricia Kelly says
My figs are getting ripe, and I have lost my recipe for fig preserves. I was happy to find yours—my husband grew up in Oxford, MS, went to Ole Miss (undergrad and MD) and still has so many friends and relatives there. I have loved being “grafted in” to a deep-South family! Oxford is wonderful!! I am looking forward to trying your recipe. Thanks!
I don't understand what you mean by saying do not seal the jars but put them in a water bath and cook until they seal and you hear them pop.
It’s the same as canning other preserves; The lid goes on and the ring is lightly snugged to keep water out but allow steam to escape the jar as it gets hot. The ring is then tightened after it’s s removed from the canning bath.
What language are you speaking? OMG
This is a recipe?
Myra Young says
I didn't come from a long line of good cooks, but trial and error has always been the way i learned. I put in a fig tree a couple of years ago because i like them right off the tree. I thank you for sharing your recipe, Based on the coments i will forgo trial amd error this time.
Dawn Smith says
Hi! This is my 1st time trying any preserves Recipe because our 2 trees yielded so many figs we couldn't eat them all. My question is that I followed picking them, washing them, sugar vs figs, overnight in frig., until now cooking them, What happened is my juice isnt very thick & my figs cooked down? So I thought right now (until more become ripe) that 5 jars would be enough, now it looks like 3 jars only? What did I do wrong?
Lise Ode says
I'm sorry I'm not sure the answer to this. Maybe you could google it. Perhaps it's the type of figs you used?
Kathleen Andrews Martin says
I was so excited to find your post when I was looking for recipes for fig preserves. I grew up in Ozark. Both my husband and I were in Miss Corinne's second grade class. My house was on College Street one house away from Deer Avenue which ran beside your grandparents home. Your Aunt Corinne's house was across the street from your grandparents. In her front yard were lovely big trees dripping with Spanish moss. Your grandparents, Glen and Dorothy, were avid gardeners, and walking by their back garden always was a treat. As often as not they would be outside working. Mis Corinne was a wonderful teacher. I still remember enjoying her class sixty-six years ago. I'm going to use your special recipe for my fig harvest this year. Like your Uncle Larry, my fig preserves are shared with family and friends for Christmas.
Lise Ode says
Thank you so much for your sweet comments, Kathleen. It is so wonderful to hear from someone that knew my grandparents and aunt Corinne. I read your message to my mom and she really appreciated your kind words especially because Corinne was such an important person in her life as well. How neat that you remember your second grade teacher so well. And thank you for remembering that my grandparents were avid gardeners. That means so much. I hope you enjoy this recipe.
Sorry to be dense - do you sow-cook thr figs covered or uncovered?
Diann Simms says
Similar memories of Shell Horn, Troy and Dothan. Love those figs!
Lise Ode says
I have family in Dothan too. Small world. 🙂
Debbie Cagle Wagner says
I was raised in Ozark, Alabama and definitely enjoyed the trip down memory lane! This is my grandmothers recipe. I am originally from Maryville, TN. However, like many in Ozarkians, Ft. Rucker was the drawing card. Thank you again! Happy Canning!!!
Lise Ode says
Hi Debbie, I love to see comments from Ozarkians! Glad you enjoyed the recipe post. Happy Canning to you too!
Julie McCallum says
I picked my figs then read your post so is it a problem if my figs are missing stems?