Food & dining

Seasonal Recipe

Recipe for fig, grape, and plum conserve

Sally Pasley Vargas for The Boston Globe

Makes eight or nine 8-ounce jars

The hallmark of a conserve is its combination of both fresh and dried fruits, enhanced by some kind of liqueur. Here, fresh and dried figs are mixed with early fall fruits and Amaretto. Slather it on toast for breakfast or serve with soft cheese and crackers. Or, bake it between layers of buttery crust or simply spoon into a baked tart shell and top with whipped cream.

2oranges, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1lemon, quartered lengthwise and thinly sliced
1pound fresh black figs, quartered
8ounces dried Mission figs, quartered
1pound black grapes, halved and seeded
pounds prune or small regular plums, pitted and cut into ½-inch pieces
¼cup lemon juice
pounds sugar
3tablespoons Amaretto or other almond

1. Place 3 small saucers and 3 metal spoons in a flat place in the freezer. Wash 9 half-pint jars, lids, and screw bands in hot soapy water.

2. In a large, wide pot over medium heat, combine the oranges, lemon, fresh and dried figs, grapes, plums, lemon juice, and sugar. Cook, stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the liquid bubbles. Continue cooking and stirring occasionally until the mixture begins to thicken. Now stir constantly to keep it from scorching on the bottom, and start testing for the jellying point.


3. To test: Dip a large metal spoon into the pot. Hold it over the pot so that the bowl of the spoon faces you. Let the liquid fall back into the pot. As it approaches the jellying point, two distinct drops will hang onto the rim of the spoon thickly. Spoon a small puddle of the syrup onto a cold saucer from the freezer and add a little to the spoon beside it. Return it to the freezer for 3 minutes. Draw your finger across the puddle of syrup. If the surface wrinkles slightly and the channel does not close up immediately, your conserve is ready. As a second check point, tilt the spoonful of conserve. If it looks thick and jelly-like, it is done. If it runs and looks watery, continue to cook the fruits for a few more minutes.

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4. Stir in the Amaretto. Ladle the hot conserve into eight or nine clean, warm jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace. Wipe the rim of each jar with a wet paper towel and place the lid on top. Screw on the band, but don’t screw it on too tight. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 months.

Sally Pasley Vargas