BALSAMIC PICKLED FIGS AND WALNUTS
Growing up in New England I ate apples, a lot of apples. I didn’t taste a fig until well into my twenties. Figs were exotic, a mythical fruit I thought only existed in the pages of the Bible. I didn’t know it was a sacred tree in many religions. Buddha found enlightenment under The Bodhi Tree (a fig) and Hindus believe it is the tree of eternal life. Figs are the fruit of paradise.
When I tasted my first fig in Europe as a young woman, I was blown away (not unlike like Julia with the sole Meuniere). It’s ancient flavor of honey and hay with a touch of musk was revelatory for me.
Now I live in Southern California and have a fig tree in my back yard. I am still working on enlightenment. Sometimes I catch a glimmer of it in the kitchen.
Balsamic Pickled Figs while not exactly enlightened are delicious and a wonderful addition to your pantry. Serve them with anything salty or tangy, blue cheese, parmesan and prosciutto come to mind. They up the ante on any cheese plate and will be wonderful alongside braised and roasted meats come fall.
YIELD: 4 PINTS
- 3-4 lbs fresh figs
- 3 cups balsamic vinegar
- 6 cups water
- 11/2 cup sage honey
- 11/2 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 cup shelled halved walnuts
- 16 peppercorns
- 4 sprig thyme or rosemary
- 4 strips of orange zest
- Prick each fig a couple of time with a skewer. Place figs in a large pot and cover with boiling water. Gently swish the figs around. Cool. Repeat if necessary to clean figs. Drain.
- Combine vinegar ,water, sugar and honey in a large nonreactive pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Carefully lower the figs into the simmering syrup. Simmer uncovered for twenty minutes, add the walnuts. Continue simmering for another 10-25 minutes depending on the size of your figs. The liquid should look slightly syrupy and the figs should be a little glossy .
- Arrange figs in jars, dividing the herbs and zest evenly between them. With a ladle pour the syrup over the figs leaving 1/2 inch of headroom.
- Close and seal the jars . Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
- I would like to replace some of the water with orange juice next time .
- Try some different herbs remembering that the balsamic can be overpowering. I tried lemon verbena and didn't taste it at all.
- You skewer the fruit so that it absorbs the liquid and sinks.
- I used sage honey because I love its flavor but any honey will do.
- Use your own judgment when cleaning the figs. Homegrown figs tend to be sticky and sometimes need two rinses.