Fig Jam (yes you read that right)

A couple of weeks ago my neighbor texted me, “My fig tree is ripe and loaded with figs, you want them?” Now, if a stranger had asked you if you wanted some figs you might think they were weird, odd and may be trying to kill you. I don’t know why that is actually, why do we have such a lack of trust with strangers, especially ones offering us stuff, “I know I’m a stranger but I’m really a nice guy!” “Sure you are perve!” Living in California everyone has some sort of fruit tree in their yard. I have an orange tree in my front yard and I love picking an orange off, sitting on my front steps, peeling it and eating it with my kids. When you have a fruit tree or a garden you find yourself eating things you wouldn’t normally eat or try. Lemon tree? You’re making lemonade, putting lemon juice on everything and all of a sudden you squeeze a wedge of lemon in your water…CAUSE YOU CAN!!! Lime tree? Boom! You’re making scratch margaritas on the reg. Pomegranate tree? I actually have no idea how to eat one of those! Avocado tree? Retire! Do you know how expensive avocados are? 

Figs are tough. I never really eat them unless they’re in a sale at a restaurant or something. Every now and then we would buy the spread for a cheese plate but then it just sits in the fridge because you can’t have cheese plates every night, what am I royalty? But here’s what I love about my neighbor. She knew I would take them and do something with them. And the whole experience became something more than me taking away these figs so they didn’t rot on the ground around her pool. I went over with my wife and kids, got up on a ladder, got the kids to help a bit and then they played in my neighbors trampoline. My kids saw me on a ladder gathering fruit, they saw neighbors sharing and being a part of a community. The idea of being neighborly, something that seems to have disappeared just a bit in this day in age. A time where people shop online, eat food out more and are consumed by technology and work. To be a part of our neighborhood felt great.

I gathered up the figs, found a fig jam recipe and made a jam. It was so simple. You quarter the figs, throw them in water with some sugar and boil, THAT’S IT! Within an hour I was jarring fig jam! My grandmother used to jar stuff. We weren’t very close with her but I remember finding old jars of piccalilli at my house. Piccalilli is an east coast kind of relish and is amazing. The idea of having shelves stocked with jarred food that I made has always been a life goal. And this fig jam was my first step towards that. I had enough for one big jar and two small jars. I kept the big jar for my son’s peanut butter and fig jam sandwiches which he loves! And then I gave a jar to a friend who has a little one and of course I gave a jar to my neighbor that gave me the figs. The idea of sharing something you make with others is one of the most rewarding. But the most rewarding is making your kids sandwich with a fig jam you made. Everything we eat comes from somewhere else, there’s no connection to it at all. But overtime I pop the lid to that jar I think of that day, I see my kids carrying the figs home, I remember picking them up so they could see it cooking on the stove and finally letting them take a lick when it was done. I know I’m old school but I love it!

Jay Larson