Happy New Year dear friends!! I hope all of you have had a good start and wishing you that you have a calm and peaceful year ahead. So we have stepped into another year – crisp, fresh and new and my prayers are that we can all make the best of it.
The little break stretched over way longer than I had intended. For the past few weeks I kept myself away from the internet to have some time with the family. My apologies if I have not replied to the mails and comments. I just felt I needed that personal time to myself and here are my promises to get back…slowly.
Now to the post I had started writing many weeks back…
A tiny little fig tree adorns our back yard. It is only about a few months old and only one and a half feet tall; and it is precious.
This little baby plant struggled in the first few months of its life. I have killed two fig plants before this and I was watching this every few minutes, every day. Literally. It became an obsession with me, as I walked up and peeked down, stroked the leaves, turned them over to look for bugs or signs of wilting, rotting and drying up. And I talked to it; prayed that it is well loved, and we have hopes and it cannot give up on us.
Then one day I see fruits. I almost cried and then I ran like a gust of wind inside the house to announce it.
I do not know how I missed the flowers. May be it was during those few weeks, when I withdrew from life – stunned, shocked at the what life could offer. Then again I examined the fruits everyday – trying to see them grow. But if you are watching them every day, you cannot really see them grow. Just like we only find out that our kids have grown over an inch when we discover that the pair of jeans are way over the ankle, all of a sudden.
Winter then decided to arrive in our parts of the world. And the figs stopped growing. They were big enough, but the cold wind would not let them ripen.
I still waited. Texas weather is unpredictable. May be it will warm up again. With fierce determination I waited to see then turn that deep purple with the intense hue inside. As if the strength and passion of my thoughts will help them ripen. I waited and dreamed until I forgot what kind of a fig tree I got. I started telling myself that may be these figs are the green ones – the Kadota, which will ripen but still stay green. (I think I got ourselves a Mission Fig …)
No chance. It was going to be below freezing and probably even a little snow. The figs had to come home, plump or not.
So they did. My cousin sister was here with us to share my joy. A big handful of figs (it was my sis. who agreed to hold the figs for me in the above photograph) in a few months time is more I could ask for.
When the sizzling excitement of photographing them and the wiping off the fresh, white oozing latex simmered down, I sat down and wondered what to do with these figs. I had come across a recipe of Turkish Preserved Figs sometime back. I am quite biased. I seem to love everything Turkish (and everything fig too, for that matter). I never did really think that I could ever make these, for I knew not where to find unripe figs.
Then I had a little recipe card for a fruit compote that came in the box of some very fragrant mulling spices. And there were roses blooming in our front yard – red, organic and at hand’s reach.
Preserved Figs with Spices and Roses; I loved the way the words sounded. It just had to be that. No second thoughts. It seemed like a chance of a lifetime with the figs I had.
Preserved Figs with Spices and Rose Petals
Ingredients: (makes 15 preserved figs in syrup)
- 15 (approx), immature green figs, washed thoroughly
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice (use 2 tablespoon if not using orange juice)
- 3/4 – 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup water + 1 cup orange juice (or 2 cups water)
- orange zest (1 large orange)
- 4-6 cloves, coarsely pounded or 1.5 teaspoon of mulling spice
- 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- few drops of orange blossom water/or orange extract
- petals of 3-4 medium sized rose (organic/chemical free roses only please)
Wash the figs thoroughly. Remove the ends/stalks of the figs and soak them in water for one day, changing water a couple of times.
Remove from water and slice them in half. (You may leave them whole. I wanted all the unripe taste to be washed/boiled away, so I sliced them).
Take enough water in a pan to immerse the figs and bring it to a boil. Add the figs and boil for 10 minutes. Discard water. Put in fresh water and boil the figs again for about 5-7 minutes. Discard the water. Repeat this process 3-4 times (total). This removes the latex in the unripe figs and also the bitterness if any.
Now add all the ingredients, other than the figs to fresh water in another pan and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. When it comes to a boil, add the figs and boil the figs vigorously for 7 minutes and reduce the heat and then allow it to simmer until the syrup thickens and the figs are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. If you wish, you may mash them for more of a jam consistency or keep them whole.
Allow the figs to cool in the syrup. When cooled, spoon the the figs and the syrup with all spices and petals into clean sterilized jars. Leave them to marinate/macerate for a couple of days before you eat. The flavor of the spices will infuse and get deeper.
Serve with ice cream, or with mascarpone or mousse or with bread/cakes/french toast smeared with cream cheese/or mascarpone and top it with the preserved fig. They are so good!
Preparation Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Difficulty Level: Easy
Serves/Makes: 15 Preserved Figs
Shelf Time: about 3 weeks in the refrigerator, if stored in a clean, sterilized jar
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