Figgy Jam

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Figgy Jam! Just the name alone conjures Christmas spirit! And we’re just into December, so it’s time to plan cheese pairings! Lots of them.

This jam is a version of one I make every holiday season. It’s got a little savory component to it, but it’s not a chutney. And, it’s really not a jam, because it’s not that sweet. Let’s call it a conserve.

Just as the Spaniards are so good at pairing their beloved Manchego with quince and other sweet fruit pastes, I make my figgy “jam” to pair with Chèvre, Fontina, and my favorite stinky cheese of all time – the famous Époisses from the Burgundy region of France. (It’s supposedly the only cheese in France that is banned from public transportation! And that’s really saying something!)

I love figs, especially dried figs, but I have to admit something. Too many figs, and because of the little fig seeds, I can sometimes feel like I’m eating sand. So to this jam, I added dates and dried cranberries. That way, I will have the figgy flavor, but not so many seeds. And the cranberries provide a more scarlet color, which fits the holidays.

So here’s what I did:

Figgy Conserve

1 pound dried fruit – chopped figs, chopped dates, and dried cranberries*
1 apple, peeled, cored, finely diced
¾ cup fresh orange juice
¼ cup ruby Port
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 shallots, finely diced
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick

Place all of the ingredients in a pot with the cinnamon stick. Cook the mixture with the lid on for about 30 minutes over medium-low heat, stirring often. Pretty much all of the liquid will have been absorbed; you want the dried fruit hydrated, but also have a little liquid left over in order to process the jam.

Let the mixture cool, then put everything except the cinnamon stick in the jar of a food processor. Pulse, scrape, pulse, scape, and continue, using a little more orange juice if necessary. I don’t make a paste – I prefer to have a little texture to the conserve.

Place in jars and store in the refrigerator. This must be brought to room temperature before using. It’s also really good on toast in the morning with coffee!

*Any combination of fruits will do, but I highly recommend always using some amount of figs because of the fig-cheese benefit. After that, it’s up to your taste in dried fruit. I also love dried apricots in this conserve.

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