Fig preserve called Glyko sykalaki in Greek, (pr. glee-KHO sy-kha-LAH-kee), is one of my favourite fruit preserves. It is perfect to eat alone as a dessert with a few calories or use it in other desserts.
In order to make the fig preserve, the figs should not be ripe.
Living in Athens it’s not easy to have access to unripe figs unless you own a fig tree.
A few weeks ago, when we went to Sparta, there was a fig tree in the back yard, which was loaded with figs.
I have been going to the same house for so many years but I never noticed the fig tree before. I was so excited that I would finally make this spoon sweet, which is one of my favourites.
Looking at the figs I spotted a cicada, “tzitzikas” in Greek, which is of course a harmless insect, but you know us city girls, I was a bit scared.
My husband took it in his hands to show me that it is harmless. I was really scared so I stressed to him that when he released it to make sure that it flies away from me, so he carefully turns away from me to release it and it flies back right into my face.
You can imagine how I screamed and shouted that everybody ran out of the house to see what was going on.
In this post I have a recipe for fig preserve and fig jam. These two recipes
cannot be made during the same period. See update at the end.
The spoon sweet (fruit preserve) is always made when the figs are still green and unripe whereas the jam is made when figs are ripe.
In Greece figs are ripe around August, so we make the preserve around end April – early May.
The amount of *sugar depends on the weight of the figs. Weigh the figs after peeling them and add the same amount of sugar.
Greek Fig Preserve (Glyko Sykalaki)
- 50 unripe figs
- 1 ½ kilos sugar*
- 1 cup of cooking quick pickling lime
- 3 cups of water
- ½ cup of lemon juice
- Cloves and/or vanilla
- 50 blanched and roasted almonds (optional) or use 25 and split them into two pieces
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice.
- Peal off a thin layer of skin from the figs (use gloves to protect yourself from the latex oozing out of the figs). Place them in a big pot with the water and quick lime for 1 hour.
- Rinse the figs thoroughly and return to pot, cover with water and bring them to boil. Use a skewer or a knitting needle to poke them and when the fall off the skewer you will know that they are cooked.
- Remove from the heat, drain them and use fresh water to cover them and add the lemon juice. Let them soak for one hour.
- Meantime blanche and roast the almonds and after the one hour drain them again and insert one almond in each. Push it from underneath.
- Put them back to the pan, cover with sugar and the 3 cups of water and let them rest for ½ an hour.
- Put them back on the heat and bring them to boil, reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Leave them in the pot all night and the following day bring them to boil again until syrup is thick. When they are done, add 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and the vanilla.
- Remove from heat and they should cool down before placing them into sterilized jars.
Note: Next time I will make them I will double the amount of sugar and water, as they absorb a lot of syrup and was not enough left to fill the jars and preserve the spoon sweet.
No worries. This can easily be fixed by making additional syrup.
The ratio is equal amount of sugar and water and 2 – 3 tbsp lemon juice. Bring the syrup to a boil for five minutes, add the lemon juice and then add the previous syrup and combine the two syrups together and fill your jars).
Update: 1st May, 2014:
This year I made fig preserve again. The figs were very small (1 kilo figs were 137 figs), so there was no need to peel them.
I did not poke them either nor did I use pickling lime because I didn’t have any. I just cut the tip on top and removed the hard end, on the other side, using a sharp knife.
After boiling and changing the water twice, I let them drain the water but as I was adding a clove on top and the almond on the hole, below, as I squeezed them, a lot of water came out, so I did this to all the figs.
They looked very wrinkled but when boiling them again with the sugar, the syrup was penetrated through, so they get their shape again.
As I mentioned above, I doubled the amount of sugar and water.
This time I used a thermometre to check if the syrup was ready.
When it reached 105 degrees Celcius, I removed it from the heat. I removed the fig preserve in a colander and gathered all the syrup which it had absorbed.
When it cooled, I returned the syrup back to the pot and waited again until it reached 105 degrees C. I added the preserve back in the pot and checked one more time to see that the temperature reached 105 degrees C. I left it cool in the pot before storing it in sterilized jars.
Updated: 7th September, 2014:
Fig preserve in September, when the figs are ripe? I didn’t think this was possible, until a friend of ours who has fig trees, asked me if I wanted some unripe figs to make some preserve.
I had no idea that you could make a preserve this time of the year but I was willing to experiment.
The figs were not ripe nor in the best of state and it was impossible to remove a thin layer of skin as the whole skin would come out.
If I removed the skin, they would probably end up as a jam. I washed and scrubbed them well in order to prepare the preserve with the the skin on. While it was cooking I noticed that it turned into a pinkish colour.
I followed the same method but the end result was a more chewy preserve, which reminded me of dried figs.
I still had a little bit of the fig preserve from 2013, and a couple of jars from the one I made in May 2014.
You can see the difference in the picture I took with three different types of figs. On the left, is the one I made yesterday. In the centre is the one I made in the spring and on the right the one I made last year.
The best is that of 2013 which is firm and crunchy. The one I made in spring is lighter in colour and although tastes great, is softer in texture. The one I made yesterday, is darker and more chewy, although it was boiled for a longer period.
You can see the difference when it is cut.
How to clean the pot from fig milk?
When I finished making the preserve, both in Spring and yesterday, I had a hard time cleaning the pot. There was a sticky, substance from the fig milk. sticking on the sides of the pot.
I tried scrubbing it for a long time , I tried washing it with pure blue alcohol (coloured) scrubbing it with a sponge, I filled the pot with water, added dish liquid and boiled the water and I made a mixture of baking soda and coarse sea salt but none of the above worked.
The last thing I tried was red wine vinegar on the sponge. It needed a lot of scrubbing but it worked!
Actually these ripe figs were not intended to become a fig jam but as I said in my previous post, when I went to the farmers’ market I bought tons of fruit, amongst other two kinds of figs: black figs and royal figs.
The only ones in the family eating figs is my elder son and me. We ate a few but since I had bought so many other fruit, after a few days later I saw that they were becoming soft and if I didn’t do anything quick, I would have to throw them away.
So the first thing that came to my mind was to preserve them.
I peeled them, weighed them (i just guessed about the sugar as I was not following any recipe) and added sugar and brandy.
I put them on the heat stirring until the sugar dissolved and when they began to boil, I lowered the heat and simmered them for 15 minutes.
I added the lemon juice and removed them from the heat. I let it cool down and stored the jam in the refrigerator until I had time to think what to do with it.
When it cooled down I tried it and could not stop eating. It was so addictive, I could eat it all at once.
When I made it I didn’t add too much sugar as I wanted to use it right away and not to preserve it as a proper jam, so if you’re thinking of preserving it, add more sugar.
A few days later I searched for recipes in the internet and decided to make one.
It was a disaster but I will talk about this and what I eventually made in another post.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 15 – 20 minutes
Yields: 3 cups
- 700 grams of figs (after being peeled) (I used black figs and royal figs)
- 300 grams of sugar (I would say add 400 – 500 grams)
- 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons of brandy
- Peel figs and cut into 4. Add sugar, lemon juice and brandy and put on heat stirring and pressing them with the spoon to release their juice.
- When they boil, lower heat and simmer for fifteen minutes, mixing constantly.
- Allow to cool before using or placing into clean jars.
Rum and Cinnamon Fig Jam
This year I decided to make something different. It was ready in less than half an hour.
Fig Jam with Lemon, Rum and Cinnamon, Recipe by Ivy
- 10 medium black figs
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/5 cup lemon juice
- 1/5 cup dark rum
- zest of 1 lemon
- 1 stick cinnamon
- Peel the figs and cut them into small pieces.
- Put them in a saucepan together with all the other ingredients and with a wooden spoon, press to mash them.
- As soon as they begin boiling, reduce heat and keep mixing for about 15 – 20 minutes, until it begins to thicken.
- Allow to cool before storing into clean sterilized jars.
- I just loved the combination of lemon with cinnamon!!
Update 6 August, 2013
Loved my new jam. I used three kinds of fruit and used honey instead of sugar. Ripe fruit have their own sugar so the amount I added was perfect for my taste. If you like your jam to be sweeter, you will have to increase the amount of sugar, to your taste..
Fig, Peach and Nectarine Jam with Honey
- 360 grams peeled figs
- 1 peach, peeled
- 2 nectarines
- ½ cup honey
- 2 fragrant geraniums
- 1 stick cinnamon
- ¼ cup water
- 4 tbsp lemon juice (½ lemon)
Fruit were peeled and boiled for about 20 minutes. Procedure same as above. Lemon juice was added just a few minutes before turning the heat off.
Update 22 August, 2013
This jam is less sweet than usual jams but as a topping on desserts it’s perfect.
Figs and Peach Jam
Light Fig and Peach Light Jam
- 2 kilos figs
- 3 peaches
- 1 cup cane sugar
- ½ cup honey
- 3 tbsp stevia
- 1 cinnamon stick
- 3 fragrant geraniums
- ¼ cup lemon juice
- ½ cup water
- 25 grams gelfix
- Follow the directions for other jams.
- I boiled the jam for about 10 minutes x 3 times. I cooked it on a ceramic stove top and each time I let it cool completely before boiling it again.
- I added the lemon juice and gelfix before the third time of boiling.
Note: I made the jam more than once and sometimes you don’t need to add the gelfix. It all depends on the natural pectin in the fruit and whether they are very juicy or not.
Kaimaki Ice Cream with Fig and Peach Jam
Other recipes you might enjoy:
About Spoon sweets
How do we know if syrup is ready?
How to fix spoon sweets
Karydaki (green (immature) walnuts)
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,
Tuesday 7th of May 2013
Don't get me wrong but I had a good laugh with the cicada:) I have eaten these fig spoon sweet once long time back and they were so utterly delicious. It made my mouth water. The jam looks wonderful too.
Wednesday 10th of September 2008
I am so jealous! The season is almost over and I haven't gotten any figs. It's been years since the last time I ate figs. That's what I miss from Mexico the most, it's tons of fresh, cheap fruit at the market :(
Tuesday 9th of September 2008
This looks so good! I've been gorging on figs lately and have had vague notions of fig jam/preserves in my head, and this has totally sold me on the idea. It looks great!
Tuesday 9th of September 2008
Ew! That cicada is freaky, we have them ALL OVER here where I live. The tree buzz until you walk near them then they are mysteriously quiet.
Ooh I love all types of jams,your fig jam looks especially tempting:)
Monday 8th of September 2008
The black figs in your photo are like the ones I tried here that they just called Greek figs. I haven't tried the royal figs....yet..I'll add that to my list of things next year:D