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Recipe: Slow-Roasted Fig Preserves with Lemon

Here's a canning recipe that married sublime simplicity with the pragmatism of storing an abundant harvest for the winter. There's just three ingredients in these preserved figs, from Liana Krissoff's "Canning for a New Generation," featured in today's Buffalo News.

Slow-Roasted Fig Preserves with Lemon
(From “Canning for a New Generation,” by Liana Krissoff, Stewart, Tabori & Chang, $25)
Makes about 4 half-pint jars

My worldly friend Regan Huff told me about slow-roasting figs at her family’s house in France, and I had to try it as a preserve. The figs roast very, very slowly, which gives them time to gradually absorb the sugar before they start to caramelize. Regan also remembered that those roasted figs were served with ricotta.

Spoon a bit of cold, creamy fresh cheese and warmed preserves onto a small plate, sprinkle with savory salted and toasted pine nuts and rosemary, and call it dessert. 

I can this preserve in a boiling-water bath with great success (5 minutes in half-pint jars), but since it isn't completely sugar-saturated it's probably best to store it in the refrigerator, where it will keep for ages.

1 small lemon, quartered and thinly sliced, seeds removed
3 pounds ripe figs, stemmed and rinsed, left whole if small, halved if larger
1 ½ cups sugar

Preheat the oven to 300°F.

Scatter the lemon slices over the bottom of a large roasting pan, then spread the figs in the pan. Sprinkle with the sugar and pour in 1 cup water.

Cover the pan with aluminum foil and roast for 2 hours, then uncover the pan, increase the oven temperature to 400°F, and roast for about 1 ½ hours more, until the figs are dark, the lemon slices are translucent, and the juices are bubbling and have reduced to a dark, somewhat thick syrup.

Prepare for water-bath canning: Sterilize the jars and keep them hot in the canning pot, and put the flat lids in a heatproof bowl.

Ladle the preserves into preheated nonreactive jars, then put the lids on, let cool, and refrigerate. The preserves will keep for at least a month.

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