fig recipe for fall

Fall is here. In Pennsylvania it comes at you fast. Days get short and when the sun goes down it gets cold very quickly.

Most of the fig tree leaves have fallen, revealing small green small figs that will not ripen in this weather. An old-fashioned Mediterranean way to use these doomed figs is to candy them. They become something similar to the candied fruits that you would use in holiday desserts.

Of course, no preparation can match the tasty ripe fig, but candied figs are better than none.

Unripe green and black figs in a bowl
These green and black figs will never ripen, but don’t give up–with this recipe for candied figs, you can still enjoy them during the long winter months

This is a simple recipe. The only thing you have to worry about is removing all of the milky white sap. This white stuff is latex! Don’t worry, it’s easy to remove the sap from your unripe figs. Boil them, wash them, and drain them a couple of times to be sure that the sap is gone.

Harvested unripe figs in a stainless steel bowl, next to a fig stem--leaking white sap--from which an unripe fig was recently picked.
Here you can see the milky sap that leaks out of the stem when you pick an unripe fig.

candied unripe figs

This recipe makes the best of falling temperatures by using the end-of-season figs that won’t have time to ripen before the warm weather ends.

  • 2 pounds unripe figs
  • 2 pounds sugar
  • 5 1/2 cups water
  • 1 lemon
  • 4 cloves

Wash the figs and cut of the woody stems.

Unripe figs have a milky sap which must be removed by boiling them twice, changing the water each time.

Cover the figs with with water, bring to a boil, and keep at a low boil for about 10 minutes. Discard the hot water and let the figs cool.

When the figs are cool enough to touch, squeeze the water out of them and repeat the boiling process: cover them with fresh water, boil for 10 minutes, discard the water, let the figs cool, and then squeeze the water out of them.

In a small saucepan, bring 5½ cups of water, 4 cloves, and 2 pounds of sugar to a boil. Add the figs. You will see that the figs return to their original shape as they boil in this syrup. Boil until the liquid reduces by half. This should take about 25 minutes. Finally, add the juice of one lemon and boil for 5 minutes more.

When cool, you can put the figs in a jar, filling the jar to the top with the syrup. This can be refrigerated or kept at room temperature in a dry and dark place.

A candied unripe fig resting on a white spoon glistens with sugar syrup
This candied unripe fig almost looks like a holiday ornament!
A candied fig on a white spoon
A candied unripe fig is better than no figs at all during the dark days of wintertime

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