How to Make Homemade Canned Figs - Easily! With Step-by-step Photos, Recipe, Directions, Ingredients and Costs

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How to Make Home-canned Figs- Easily!

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Making and canning your own figs is also quite easy.  Here's how to make it, in 12 easy steps and completely illustrated. These directions work equally well for regular sugar, low sugar, fruit juice-sweetened and Stevia (or if you prefer, Splenda)-sweetened jam.

For more information about figs, see Fig Picking Tips.  See How to Make Homemade Fig Preserves and Fig Jam and Making Candied figs and Other fig recipes. Also this page for Blueberry Jam directions, and for strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, peach, etc., and other types of jam, see this jam-making page!

For easy applesauce or apple butter directions, click on these links.

Ingredients and Equipment

  • Fruit - fresh figs - about 4 dozen medium to large figs (about 11 lbs) makes 7 pint jars (16 ounces each) of jam.
  • Lemon juice - either fresh squeezed or bottled. Alternatively, Citric acid (brand name, fruit fresh).
  • Water - 1/2 cup
  • Sugar - About 4.5 cups of dry, granulated (table) sugar. It is possible to make low-sugar,  fruit juice-sweetened, or Stevia (or if you prefer, Splenda)-sweetened fig jam; I'll point out the differences below.
  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)- Big box stores and grocery stores sometimes carry them; and it is available online - see this page. It's a tremendously useful to put jars in the canner and take the hot jars out (without scalding yourself!). The kit sold below has everything you need, and at a pretty good price:
  • 1 large pot; I prefer 16 to 20 quart Teflon lined pots for easy cleanup.
  • Large spoons and ladles
  • 1 Canner (a huge pot to sanitize the jars after filling (about $30 to $35 at mall kitchen stores, sometimes at big box stores and grocery stores.). Note: we sell canners and supplies here, too - at excellent prices - and it helps support this web site!
  • Ball jars (Grocery stores, like Publix, Kroger, Safeway carry them, as do some big box stores - about $7.50 per dozen pint ounce jars including the lids and rings)
  • Jar funnel ($2 at Target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page) or order it as part of the kit with the jar grabber.
  • Lids - thin, flat, round metal lids with a gum binder that seals them against the top of the jar. They may only be used once.
  • Rings - metal bands that secure the lids to the jars. They may be reused many times.

Optional stuff:

  • Lid lifter (has a magnet to pick the lids out of the boiling water where you sanitize them. ($2 at big box stores or it comes in the kit at left)

Fig Canning Directions

This example shows you how to make canned (or bottled) jam; regular or with added seasoning. The yield from this recipe is about 7 pint jars.

Step 1 - Pick the figs! (or buy them already picked)

It's fun to go pick your own and you can obviously get better quality ones!

At right is a picture I took of figs from my own tree - these are a variety called Celeste - see this page for more information on various types of figs, how to select the variety and how to pick them!

To pick your own, here is a list and links to the pick your own farms. just select your area!

FYI, Figs are REALLY easy to grow and also make an attractive landscaping tree!

 

 

Step 2 - How much fruit?

It depends upon how much you want to make. I generally use pint jars for canned figs. An average of 11 pounds is needed per canner load of 9 pints. That's about  4 dozen medium to large figs.

If you are using quart jars, an average of 16 pounds is needed per canner load of 7 quarts; An average of 2-1/2 pounds yields 1 quart of canned figs.

 

 

Step 3 - Wash the jars and lids

Now's a good time to get the jars ready, so you won't be rushed later. The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle, the water bath processing will sanitize them as well as the contents! If you don't have a dishwasher with a sanitize cycle, you can wash the containers in hot, soapy water and rinse, then sanitize the jars by boiling them 10 minutes, and keep the jars in hot water until they are used.

NOTE: If unsanitized jars are used, the product should be processed for 5 more minutes. However, since this additional processing can result in a poor set (runny jam), it’s better to sanitize the jars.

Put the lids into a pan of hot, but not quite boiling water (that's what the manufacturer's recommend) for 5 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" to pull them out.

Leave the jars in the dishwasher on "heated dry" until you are ready to use them. Keeping them hot will prevent the jars from breaking when you fill them with the hot jam. Some newer dishwashers even have a "sanitize" setting.

Step 4 - Get the lids warming in hot (but not boiling) water

Lids: put the very hot (but not quite boiling; around 180 F, steaming water is fine)
water (or on the stove in a pot of water on low heat) for at least several minutes; to soften up the gummed surface and clean and sanitize  the lids.

Need lids, rings and replacement jars?

Get them all here, delivered direct to your home, at the best prices on the internet!

 

 

 

Step 5 -Wash the figs!

I'm sure you can figure out how to gently wash the fruit in plain cold water.

You  should not cut off the stems or the bottom of the fig, nor peel them.  You want them intact! Also, don't use overripe or nasty looking ones (example photo below)

 

At left, sample figs with unappealing peels (skins). 

 

At right is a sample slice of a perfectly ripe but not over-ripe fig.  It depends on the variety, but generally, they should be pink/yellowish and not brown inside....

 

 

Step 6 - Make the syrup

Depending upon which type of sweetener you want to use (sugar, no-sugar, Stevia (but you will have to experiment with amount, each brand of Stevia is a different concetration), or Splenda, or a mix of sugar and Stevia (or Splenda) or fruit juice) you will need to use a different syrup from below. Adding syrup to canned fruit helps to retain its flavor, color, and shape. It does not prevent spoilage of these foods. Heat the syrup to near boiling in a pot. Most people prefer the very light syrup!

Sugar syrup proportions for 7 to 9-pint jars of figs (double it for 9 quart jars)

  Type of syrup
(Choose ONE)
Water
(cups)
Fruit
juice
(cups)
Sugar
(cups)
Powdered
Stevia (or if you prefer, Splenda) (tm)
1 Plain water 7 0 0 0
2 no calorie sweetener 7 0 0 1/4 cup
3 Fruit juice (white grape or peach juice works well) 0 7 0  
4 Reduce calorie / fruit juice 4 3 0  
5 Fruit juice and Stevia (or if you prefer, Splenda) 0 7 0 1/2 cup
6 very low calorie 7 0 1/4 1/4 cup
7 very light (10% sugar) 7 0 1 0
8 light (20% sugar) 6 0 2 0
9 medium (30% sugar) 6 0 3 0


Step 7 - Blanching

Put the figs in a large pot of already boiling water (so all the figs are covered with water) and boil 2 minutes. Quickly but gently remove the figs at 2 minutes and drain.

 

 

 

 

Step 8 - Boil the figs in the syrup

Gently boil the figs in sugar or  fruit juice or other syrup for 5 minutes.  Light syrup is generally preferred for taste!

Notes:

  • Nutrasweet (aspartame) will NOT work - it breaks down during heating).
  • Stevia (or if you prefer, Splenda) (sucralose) substitutes with sugar BUT even the manufacturers of  Splenda will tell you that you get best results if you just use a 50-50 mix; half regular sugar and half Splenda (or less of Stevia)
  • Sugar not only affects the sweetness, but also the color and flavor.  It does not affect the preserving or spoilage properties - that has to do with acid and the processing method.
  • you can use "no sugar" pectin in place of "low sugar" pectin - you can still add sugar or other sweeteners.

Step 9 - Add the natural preservative

Add 2 tablespoons bottled lemon juice per quart jar or 1 tablespoon per pint jar to each of the jars.  Alternatively, you may add 1/2 teaspoon citric acid (also goes under the brand name "fruit fresh") per quart or 1/4 teaspoon per pint to the jars. This is to increase the acidity and help prevent discoloration and spoilage.

Step 10 - Fill the jars with figs

Fill jars with hot figs, gently tapping the bottom of the jar on the countertop to help pack the figs down gently (tapping does it without breaking the figs)

 

 

 

Step 11 - Fill the airspace in the jars with syrup

Add the hot syrup (in which you heated the figs in step 8), leaving 1/4 to 1/2-inch headspace. Wipe any spilled jam off the top,

 

 

 

Step 12 - Put the lid /rings on and put in the canner

Seat the lid and tighten the ring around them.  This is where the jar tongs and lid lifter come in really handy! Place them into the canner

 

 

 

Step 13 - Process the jars in the boiling water bath

Keep the jars covered with at least 2 inches of water. Keep the water boiling. In general, boil them for 45 minutes at sea level.  I say "in general" because you have to process (boil) them longer at higher altitudes than sea level, or if you use larger jars, or if you did not sanitize the jars and lids right before using them. 

 

 

 

 

To adjust, process according to the recommendations in the table below:

Table 1. Recommended process time for Figs in a boiling-water canner.
 Process Time at Altitudes of
Jar Size 0 - 1,000 ft 1,001 - 3,000 ft 3,001 - 6,000 ft Above 6,000 ft
Pints 45 min 50 55 60
Quarts 50 55 60 65

Step 14 - Remove and cool the jars - Done!

Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight) You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.

Once cooled, they're ready to store. I find they last about 18 months. After that, the get darker in color and start to get runny. They still seem safe to eat, but the flavor is bland. So eat them in the first 12 to 18 months after you prepare them!

 

 

Other Equipment:

From left to right:

  1. Jar lifting tongs
    to pick up hot jars
  2. Lid lifter
    - to remove lids from the pot
    of boiling water (sterilizing )
  3. Lid
    - disposable - you may only
    use them once
  4. Ring
    - holds the lids on the jar until after
    the jars cool - then you don't need them
  5. Canning jar funnel
    - to fill the jars

You can get all of the tools in a kit here:


Summary - Cost of Making Home Canned Figs - makes 7 pint jars, 16 oz each**

Item Quantity Cost in 2013 Source Subtotal
Figs 11 lbs (about 2 gallon, or 4 dozen large figs) $10.00/gallon Pick your own $10.00
Canning jars (8 oz size), includes lids and rings 7 jars $7.50/dozen Grocery stores, like Public, Kroger, Safeway and sometimes, Big Lots, local hardware stores and big box stores $7.50
Sugar 1 cup $0.50 Grocery stores, like Public, Kroger, Safeway and sometimes, Big Lots, local hardware stores and big box stores $0.50
Total $18.00 total
or about $2.55 per pint jar

* - This assumes you already have the pots, pans, ladles, and reusable equipment. Note that you can reuse the jars! If you already have jars or reuse them, just buy new lids (the rings are reusable, but the flat lids are not)!

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Answers to Common Questions

  • Can I use frozen figs instead of fresh?
    Yep! Yes, I wash my figs as they ripen, then put them straight into a ziploc bag, squeezing out any air spaces, then put theminto the freezer until I am ready to make jam or can them.! Frozen figs work just fine, and measure the same.
  • What do I do if there's mold on my canned figs?
    Discard jcanned fods with mold on them. The mold could be producing a mycotoxin (poisonous substance that can make you sick). USDA and microbiologists recommend against scooping out the mold and using the remaining figs, jam or jelly.

Comments and Feedback

  • A visitor writes on July 25, 2013: "Just used your recipe for canning figs in water w/ small amount sugar & natural lemon juice. Never canned before now and it was super easy!! Thanks for the step by step. What is the approximate shelf life for the figs? Thanks" -
    Thank you!  The figs should have good quality for about a year, then slowly decline (but will still be safe, as long as the seal, jar and lid remain intact!


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Picking Tips

[General picking tips and a guide to each fruit and vegetable] [How much do I need to pick? (Yields - how much raw makes how much cooked or frozen)] [Selecting the right varieties to pick] [All about apple varieties - which to pick and why!]  [Picking tips for Vegetables] [ Strawberry picking tips] [ Blueberries picking tips]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Illustrated Canning, Freezing, Jam Instructions and Recipes

All About Home Canning, Freezing and Making Jams, Pickles, Sauces, etc. ] [FAQs - Answers to common questions and problems] [Recommended books about home canning, jam making, drying and preserving!] [Free canning publications to download and print]

Home Canning Kits

Features:

Ball Enamel Waterbath Canner, Including Chrome-Plated Rack and 4-Piece Utensil Set

* All the tools you need for hot waterbath canning - in one comprehensive set!
* Complete with 21 1/2 qt. enameled waterbath canner
* Also includes canning rack, funnel, jar lifter, jar wrencher, bubble freer, tongs and lid lifter.
* A Kitchen Krafts exclusive collection.

This is the same type of standard canner that my grandmother used to make everything from applesauce to jams and jellies to tomato and spaghetti sauce. This complete kit includes everything you need and lasts for years: the canner, jar rack, jar grabber tongs, lid lifting wand, a plastic funnel, labels, bubble freer. It's much cheaper than buying the items separately. You'll never need anything else except jars & lids (and the jars are reusable)! There is also a simple kit with just the canner and rack, and a pressure canner, if you want to do vegetables (other than tomatoes). To see more canners, of different styles, makes and prices, click here!
Don't forget the Ball Blue Book!

Lids, Rings, Jars, mixes, pectin, etc.

Need lids, rings and replacement jars?  Or pectin to make jam, spaghetti sauce or salsa mix or pickle mixes?  Get them all here, and usually at lower prices than your local store!

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