What the fig? Another fig jam? I was actually intending to make fig jam with chipotle chili powder when I remembered that fig and fennel would be a good pairing. I recently discovered fennel pollen (yes, it’s really pollen and can you imagine what that’s like to harvest?). It is intensely aromatic, sweet, a beautiful yellow color like saffron, which is also pollen. And it imparts an anise-like flavor with a haunting aftertaste. I made my standard microwave version of fig jam, adding lemon juice and fennel pollen at the end. I thought both would fade if I incorporated them earlier. I wasn’t sure how much fennel pollen to add, so I started with a teaspoonful, waited a few minutes, tasted the jam and increased it slightly. The small batch that I didn’t can but rather set aside to taste developed a more distinctive fennel flavor as it cooled and mellowed. I used black mission figs, but the green ones would be fine.
1½ dry pint fresh Black Mission figs, rinsed and cut into ½-inch pieces (about 1¼ lb or 3 c)
1 c sugar
1 bay leaf
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp lemon juice
1½ tsp fennel pollen
Place the figs, sugar, bay leaf ,and salt in a heatproof bowl that fits in the microwave oven and stir to combine. Let the mixture macerate for at least 30 minutes.
Prepare jars for water bath canning. Place a saucer in the freezer for testing the gel.
Microwave the mixture at high speed for 6-8 minutes or until boiling. Remove and stir. Put the bowl back in the microwave and cook for another 5 minutes, stirring and checking the gel. Continue to cook for another few minutes until the gel has set.
Remove the bowl from the microwave oven and fish out the bay leaf (watching out for little pieces if it hasn’t stayed intact). Add the lemon juice and fennel pollen. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
Spoon the jam into warm prepared jars. Check for air bubbles.
Seal the jars and process them in a water bath canner for 10 minutes after the water comes to a boil. Turn off the heat, remove the canner lid and let sit for 5 minutes before removing the jars to a counter to sit undisturbed until cool.
Makes 3 eight-ounce jars or 6 four-ounce jars, which I prefer.