Life can be tough up here on the hill and, if we had to rely on our small domestic orchard for supplies of fruit, things would have been very grim indeed this year.
When we first moved here I was tickled to bits to be the proud owner of this orchard of apricots, plums, apples, figs, nectarines, quinces and peaches. I had romantic visions of myself frolicking through the trees – possibly wearing a large bonnet and carrying a wicker basket – plucking nature’s bounty from my trees, then heading into the kitchen to begin bottling my own preserves and making jams for the local shows. In anticipation of this I scoured the classified ads in the paper and found a second-hand Vacola preserving unit with jars. I rushed home with them, washed all the jars and sat back and waited for the fruit to ripen. Sadly, I was not the only one waiting for the fruit to ripen.
As soon as the fruit looked as though it was on the way to being edible the birds swooped. Our first season they cleaned off all the peaches and nectarines, most of the plums, more than half of the apples and all but one apricot! We like to think that we are not dummies, so next season we bought nets and then went to a great deal of trouble to get them over the trees. The birds were one step ahead of us and got under the nets, or through the holes that we had made dragging them over the boughs. The result was slightly better – we managed to get some of the fruit that year – but we wondered if it was worth it.
The netting business was tedious so we quickly gave up on most of the fruit trees. We worked out that it was all about timing and have subsequently entered into an unspoken agreement with the birds. If we are quick we can have some plums and apples, they don’t like the quinces and we can share the figs. Things seemed to go a bit haywire this year, though, as all of the plums and apples were stripped from the trees while still rock hard and green. All we are left with is figs and quinces. I don’t bother to make fig jam as no-one here, except the husband who is on a diet, will eat it. I have one or two nice fig salad recipes, but when my friend Liz mentioned this dish I knew that I had to try it out and I begged her to pass it on.
This seriously delicious method for keeping figs couldn’t be simpler. The end product is dark, sticky and luscious and one of the nicest ways that I have ever eaten figs. I served them with ice cream, but cream or thick, Greek yoghurt would be just as nice. The recipe that Liz sent me said that powdered ginger could be used, but I used fresh stem ginger. I dried my own figs in a dehydrator, but bought ones can be used. I have also doctored the quantities just a little.
500 gms dried figs
1 & 1/2 cup of water
1 lemon, cut in slices
6 slices of fresh ginger or 1 teaspoon of ground ginger
3/4 cup brown sugar
Wash figs and clip off stem.
Put in crock-pot with remaining ingredients. Cover and cook on Low 6-8
hours, high 3-4 hours. place figs and syrup in glass bowl and chill in
How easy is that!!?