Monday, September 16, 2013

Foraged Fig Butter

This summer, while walking my dog farther than he wanted to go, we found a new fig tree. Well, its new to me anyway. Each time I've been there now that they're ripe, I see several people within 15 minutes. They pull over in their car, walk across the lot (its too small to call a field but its a big lot) and pick a small handful of the ripest figs. I had been checking on this tree for weeks and it seemed like they never ripened up. I know learned they are just well looked after. Except no one prunes it. Its a crazy jumble of branches that touch the ground on all sides. Its a 15 foot shrub.

Walter Crumpkin resting at the multi-trunked base of the fig.

The last time I went, a man offered me a few of his ripest figs and told me of another tree in the neighborhood. I thanked him in Arabic, which surprised him. (That is about the extent of my Arabic though.) He also told me I should climb into the tree because I am little and others didn't climb up. I took his advice and collected about 3 pints total. I gave a few of my ripest figs to the next man that came to check on the tree.

When I got home I sorted them. The very ripest I put in the fridge. These were all yellow with a purple blush. Some were greenish yellow but still fairly soft so I picked them, wondering how close they were. By the very next day, they were super ripe, they looked just like the ones in the fridge. Fruit flies were invading my kitchen. I was doing lots of food projects that day, so I decided to just cook them down into fig butter. I used honey and bourbon to make my small batch efforts even more worthwhile.

Honey Bourbon Fig Butter

1 quart fresh Figs
1/4 C Honey
2 Tbl Bourbon Whiskey
another splash of whiskey at the end to deglaze the pan, help preserve the preserves and add a tasty alcohol bite to the sweet gooey fig mush.

Destem the figs and cut into 1/8ths. Add to a pot with honey and bourbon. Simmer over medium low heat for 30 minutes, stirring frequently. Turn down heat to low, mash with a potato masher and continue cooking for another 30 minutes. A this point you need to stir very frequently and it will start to stick to the pan a bit. Take off heat and add a big splash of high proof bourbon, if possible. Let cool completely and then put in a jar and keep in the fridge. I didn't even consider properly canning it as I only had one jar. Eat on toast or with cheese.

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