We will be grateful for the decadence of preserving fruit in brandy by the year-end holiday season. We’ll spoon them over ice cream or a simple cake, add them to a cheese platter, serve them alongside roasted or potted meats. In past years, I’ve brandied cherries and peaches, and I’ve developed a formula for the liquid. I make a simple syrup with a 1:1 ratio of water and sugar and add 1.5 units of brandy, plus spices if you’re using them. I sometimes spice cherries with cinnamon, cloves, and star anise. I didn’t think figs needed anything at all, as their natural sweetness will make a syrupy compote as they cure. A piece of orange peel and some peppercorns might be worth trying sometime.
Typically, you would cold pack the fruit in prepared jars and pour the heated liquid on top. However, figs — like peaches, asparagus and okra — absorb liquid like sponges, and therefore you sometimes end up with too much air space in the jar after canning them, and the fruit or vegetables float. That could lead to spoilage so any jars that do that should be refrigerated. My solution is to add the fruit or vegetable to just-boiled liquid, bring the liquid barely back to a boil and remove the fruit or vegetable to the prepared jars. The hot liquid is then poured on top. You could just seal them and refrigerate them at this point or process using a water bath canning method. My hunch is that these will be ready in a couple of months. After a week or so, the syrup turns red from the interior of the figs.
(for 3 eight-ounce jars)
1 full dry pint figs, such as black mission, washed and halved (about 2¼ c)
½ c water
½ c granulated sugar
¾ c brandy
Prepare jars and canning kettle for water bath canning.
Bring the water and sugar to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. When the sugar has dissolved, add the brandy and bring back to a boil. Add the fig halves and bring barely to a boil.
Remove the figs to the jars. Pour the hot liquid over the top. Insert a chopstick or other slim implement into the jars to release any air bubbles. Leaves ½-inch headspace. Clean the rims and seal the jars.
Process in a water bath canner for 10 minutes after the water returns to a boil. (If using pint jars, process for 15 minutes.) Turn off the heat, remove the canner lid and let the jars sit for 5 minutes until removing them to a counter to sit undisturbed until cool.
Let the figs cure for about two months before using them.
Makes 3 eight-ounce jars.