March and early April are tough months to find local fruit, and so now is the time that we are grateful we spent a summer afternoon making fig jam. Almost immediately after we signed the papers for our home, we were off to the nursery to buy a fig tree for our yard. Unlike peaches or apples, figs are a fairly trouble free fruit in our area, and if you locate the tree properly, it will survive our typical winter cold.
Our favorite fig jam recipe calls for 3 pounds fresh figs, washed and de-stemmed, the zest of a lemon and a handful of fresh basil leaves, and fresh lemon slices. We cook the figs and sugar over low heat until for about an hour until it is thick and a deep amber. Then, we quickly stir in the basil and pour the jam into jars we have sterilized while the figs are cooking. We top each jar of jam with a lemon, and then process the jam jars and put them up for the winter.
When the oranges from the store are dry and the strawberries taste green, we grab a jar of fig jam, spread it in a tart shell, top it with pine nuts or candied pecans (and sometimes blue cheese and rosemary), and bake it in a 375 degree oven for about 30 minutes. The tart is delicious and fast, ideal features for a woman who wakes up at 4:30 AM to start work.