Fig and Balsamic Jam

Fig and Balsamic Jam I was first introduced to figs when I was very young.  My Italian grandmother lived in an urban neighborhood  just a stone’s throws away from New York City.  I still have vivid memories of the small garden she kept on a plot of land next to her garage.  The garden was home to several pots of crawling vines studded with ripe, fragrant tomatoes and a tall, green fig tree.  I never tried figs when I was younger; however, I remember my family enjoying them.  Since then, I have grown to love this sweet, earthy fruit.  The crunchy seeds of a fig provide an interesting textural contrast to its smooth skin and flesh.  This Fig and Balsamic Jam features two pounds of fresh figs simmered with sugar, balsamic vinegar and black peppercorns.  The finished product is un. real.  Spread this jam over a crunchy piece of toast for breakfast or spoon over a few scoops of vanilla ice cream for dessert.  Continue reading for the recipe.

Figs Fig and Balsamic Jam
Adapted from Thomas Keller’s ad hoc at home.

2 pounds fresh figs, stemmed and roughly chopped
1½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon black peppercorns, bundled in cheesecloth*
1 teaspoon lemon juice (or to taste)

Special equipment:  candy/oil thermometer

Fig and Balsamic Jame

In a large saucepan, combine chopped figs, sugar, balsamic vinegar and bundled peppercorns.  Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally.  Reduce heat to low and simmer until the mixture reaches a temperature of 220°F.  Continue to stir occasionally while the mixture is simmering.  Try to break up any large chunks of fig while stirring; however, you want to keep the consistency of the jam chunky.

Once the mixture reaches 220°F, remove the saucepan from the heat.  Test the consistency of the jam by placing 1 tablespoon of the mixture in small bowl.  Place the bowl in the refrigerator for 10 minutes.  If you find the jam is a bit too runny after 10 minutes, return the saucepan to the heat and simmer away for another 5 – 10 minutes.

Once you have reached a desired consistency, remove the saucepan from the heat and let cool.  Remove the bundled peppercorns and discard.  Stir in 1 teaspoon of lemon juice and taste the jam.  Add more lemon juice if needed.  Transfer mixture to a canning jar or other container.  Once the mixture is completely cooled, store in the refrigerator.

Makes 2 – 3 cups.

*Bundling the peppercorns in cheesecloth will make it much easier to remove them from the jam later.  Start by cutting a small square of cheesecloth.  Place 1 teaspoon of peppercorns in the middle of the square.  Fold up the corners of the square to make a pouch.  Tie the top of the pouch with a piece of kitchen twine.


  1. says

    I love figs too. I only knew them as the middle of fig newtons for most of my life but once I discovered the real deal, I was down for the count. This recipe looks delicious!

  2. says

    There used to be fig trees all over San Diego, but they are harder to find lately. I still haven’t tried my hand at making jam, but when I do, this is the kind of recipe I would love!

  3. says

    I have a fig tree in my front yard, so I usually make a fig-orange marmalade with mine, but I LOVE this idea! I’ll have to try this out.

  4. Brandon Matzek says

    @Tiffany I recently rescued a fig tree in my backyard that was covered in vines. No figs though. Maybe in years to come!

    @Sasha This jam pairs very well with savory cheese and crackers/crostini. I am also considering making a baked brie with this jam and crumbled bacon (potential Thanksgiving appetizer). I’ll be sure to share the results once I make it!

    @Joy Achieving the perfect consistency is the most difficult part of this recipe; however, if you follow the instructions in the second to last paragraph, you should be able to get there. Good luck!

    @Dina Sounds interesting. Please let me know what you come up with!

  5. says

    So very delicious, but I have never been able to save enough figs for jam, even with a glut off our tree! We always seem to just scarf them all.

  6. Benno says

    This looks delicious but figs are SOOOO expensive here, equivalent to a dollar for just one – yikes!!..will just have to imagine how good this tastes!!

  7. Brandon Matzek says

    @Sommer @Fiona I am so glad you two tried and enjoyed the recipe! My jar of jam is completely done. I am going to shop around this weekend to see if I can get another 2 pounds of figs. My vanilla ice cream just isn’t the same without a spoonful of this jam!

  8. nutyluv says

    I’m lucky enough to have a small fig tree that produces just enough figs each year for me to snack on and I made this and it was just wonderful.  Thanks for this one!

  9. Betty says

    Traveling in the south of France we experienced this fabulous fig/balsamic combination! Any chance the hot water bath canning method would preserve them for a year? Any experience you care to share regarding that process would be greatly appreciated! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  10. says

    This jam sounds amazing! I can imagine serving it on a cheese board with some delicious grilled baguette! I’m drooling just thinking about it!
    If you have a moment, do you mind checking out my blog please? Thanks!

  11. Judy says

    I’m still using your recipe after all this time since its original post. I got lucky that my son moved next door to a house with a fig tree and his neighbor lets me pick all the figs I want.

  12. Trang says

    Thank you for the recipe. Even though I didn’t exactly follow it I did get inspired by the fig and balsamic combo. I made mine with honey instead of sugar and left in the crushed peppercorn. I love the spicy kick from the pepper bits. The final result was a rather thick and sticky jam, still spreadable, that tasted delicious. Everyone loved it! Thanks again :)


  1. […] and the puree. Not too sweet, which is how I like it, but YMMV. The jam – despite cutting the recipe‘s sugar amount by about 1/3 – was still very sweet. Not overly so, but inching […]

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