I always felt guilty when my figs went to waste (or to the birds). The first crop, in November, is no trouble because I have nothing else ripe at the same time. But the January-February second crop is more prolific, coming at the same time as late apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, grapes, almonds and all the rest, just when the garden needs watering continually and all the usual chores need doing.

I often thought that I should dry some figs, but every recipe I met was like those in EG30 - they go on for days, changing brines and boiling up syrups. I envisaged myself battling ants, insects, dust storms and what-have-you in the process. Not to mention filling up containers, storage space and time needed to bottle, jam, pickle and dry all the other things.

Last year I was given a recipe which was much easier. Long before Day 10 is reached, when you are just putting your figs out to dry, mine are dry and safely stowed away.

3 lbs figs
1 cup water
2 cups sugar
1 Tbl vinegar

Wash figs, prick with fork, cut out the thick end of each fig, but leave stalks on. Make a syrup with sugar, vinegar and water. When just hot, put in the figs. Boil two hours with lid on. Drain overnight. Press flat. Leave in the sun about three days. Sprinkle with castor sugar. Eat!

No, don't waste the syrup. You can use some, with more sugar added. for the next batch of figs. It also has a variety of uses in puddings and desserts and is great, instead of water, for boiled fruit cakes. If you have too much for immediate use, it will keep indefinitely in deep freeze.

Pat Whyte

DATE: May 1983

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