How to Make Fig Preserves (Fig Jam) - Easily! With Step-by-step Photos, Recipe, Directions, Ingredients and Costs

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How to Make Homemade Fig Jam - Easily!

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If you are looking for a traditional, simple natural fig jam recipe, this is it, and it is quite easy. And if you have never tasted homemade fig jam, it is amazing.  If you like strawberry jam, you will love fig jam. Here's how to make it, in easy steps and completely illustrated. This recipe has been around for generations, it is just the way your great grandmother would have made fig jam.  The caveat is; since the old-fashioned jam recipes do not use any added pectin, and rely only on the pectin already in the figs, the recipe calls for a LOT of sugar.  People always ask, can I make this fig jam and reduce or skip the sugar altogether?  Sure, if you want to drink your jam; it will be very runny.  The way to cut down on added sugar is to use pectin (which occurs naturally in fruit anyway!!!) For the fig jam recipe using pectin, click here.  For the old fashioned fig jam recipe, just scroll down the page!

For more information about figs, see Fig Picking Tips.  See this page for directions about how to can figs. See this page for how to make fig-strawberry jam. See this page for Blueberry Jam directions, and for strawberry, blackberry, raspberry, peach, etc., and other types of jam, see this jam-making page!

For easy applesauce or apple butter directions, click on these links.


  • Figs - fresh figs - 5  or 6 lbs of ripe  figs like Brown Turkey (that's about 25 large figs, or 50 smaller ones, like Celeste). It also depends on the density of the figs, which varies quite a bit based on weather, variety and degree of ripeness. This makes 7 jars (8 ounces each) of jam.
  • Lemon juice - 1/4 cup of fresh squeezed or bottled lemon juice. the canning scientists say bottled is better because its pH is consistent.
  • Water - 3/4 cup
  • Sugar - 6 cups of dry, granulated (table) sugar


  • 1 large pot; I prefer 16 to 20 quart Nonstick ceramic coated pots for easy cleanup.
  • Large spoons and ladles,
  • 1 Water Bath Canner (a huge pot to sanitize the jars after filling (about $30 to $35 at mall kitchen stores, sometimes at big box stores and grocery stores.). Note: we sell canners and supplies here, too - at excellent prices - and it helps support this web site!
  • all jars (Grocery stores, like Publix, Kroger, Safeway carry them, as do some big box stores - about $7 per dozen 8 ounce jars including the lids and rings)
  • Jar funnel ($5 at Target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page) or order it as part of the kit with the Jar grabber .
  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)- Big box stores and grocery stores sometimes carry them; and it is available online - see this page. It's a tremendously useful to put jars in the canner and take the hot jars out (without scalding yourself!). The kit sold below has everything you need, and at a pretty good price:
    See here for related tools, equipment, supplies on Amazon
  • Lids - thin, flat, round metal lids with a gum binder that seals them against the top of the jar. They may only be used once.
  • Rings - metal bands that secure the lids to the jars. They may be reused many times.

Optional stuff:

  • Foley Food Mill - not necessary; useful if you want to remove seeds (from blackberries) or make applesauce.
  • Lid lifter (has a magnet to pick the lids out of the almost-boiling water where you sanitize them. ($4 at big box stores or it comes in the kit at left)

Fig Jam-making Directions

This example shows you how to make fig jam; regular or with added seasoning. The yield from this recipe is about 7 eight-ounce jars (which is the same as 3.5 pints).

Step 1 - Pick the figs! (or buy them already picked)

It's fun to go pick your own and you can obviously get better quality ones!

At right is a picture I took of figs from my own tree - these are a variety called Celeste - see this page for more information on various types of figs, how to select the variety and how to pick them!

To pick your own, here is a list and links to the pick your own farms. just select your area!

FYI, Figs are REALLY easy to grow and also make an attractive landscaping tree!



Step 2 - How much fruit?

Jam can ONLY be made in rather small batches - up to about 6 cups at a time, DO NOT increase the recipes or the jam won't "set" (gel, thicken). It takes about 5 to 6 lbs or roughly 30 medium to large figs to produce the 5 cups of prepared (peeled, sliced or chopped) fig pulp to make 1 batch of fig jam, yielding 7 jars, each 8 ounces in size.






Wash the jars and lidsStep 3 - Wash the jars and lids

Now's a good time to get the jars ready, so you won't be rushed later. The dishwasher is fine for the jars; especially if it has a "sanitize" cycle, the water bath processing will sanitize them as well as the contents! If you don't have a dishwasher with a sanitize cycle, you can wash the containers in hot, soapy water and rinse, then sanitize the jars by boiling them 10 minutes, and keep the jars in hot water until they are used.

NOTE: If a canning recipe calls for 10 minutes or more of process time in the canner, then the jars do not need to be "sanitized" before filling them. But really, sanitizing them first is just good hygeine and common sense!  See this page for more detail about cleaning and sanitizing jars and lids.

Put the lids into a pan of hot, but not quite boiling water (that's what the manufacturer's recommend) for 10 minutes, and use the magnetic "lid lifter wand" to pull them out.

Leave the jars in the dishwasher on "heated dry" until you are ready to use them. Keeping them hot will prevent the jars from breaking when you fill them with the hot jam. Some newer dishwashers even have a "sanitize" setting.

Step 4 - Get the lids warming in hot (but not boiling) water

Lids: put the very hot (but not quite boiling; around 180 F, steaming water is fine)
water (or on the stove in a pot of water on low heat) for at least several minutes; to soften up the gummed surface and clean and sanitize  the lids.Canning jars

Canning lids - where to get them online Widemouth Canning lids - get canning jar lids here through AmazonNeed lids, rings and replacement jars?

Get them all here, delivered direct to your home, at the best prices on the internet!


Step 5 -Wash and cut up the figs!

I'm sure you can figure out how to gently wash the fruit in plain cold water.

You  need to cut off the stems and the bottom of the fig, but you do not need to peel them - you CAN peel them if you want to.  I only peel the grody* looking ones (example photo below)

(* knarly, gross, yucky)

Figs, Brown turkey


At left, sample figs with unappealing peels (skins).  If the skin looks fine, I chop it up, but if the skins are tough, think or unappealing like these...




I peel ----->


At left is a sample slice of a perfectly ripe but not over-ripe fig.  It depends on the variety, but generally, they should be pink/yellowish and not brown inside....

Some recipes call for the figs to sit in boiling water for 5 to 15 minutes to "check or tenderize the skins.  Since the skins have no flavor, I'd rather remove them if they are thick or tough... otherwise, just chop them up along with the rest of the fig.





You will need 4 to 5 cups (maximum 6 cups) of crushed figs. You will notice, I just heap them in a 4-cup measuring cup, to account for the air spaces. That's about 5 cups, probably only 4 if I crushed them and packed them down more. It doesn't need to be precise.

You can chop them up more, if you like, but I find they soften and break up during cooking, and if I want smaller pieces, I just use a sharp-edged plastic potato masher (shown at right) to mush them while cooking)






Step 6 - Mix the figs with the sugar and water in a large pot and bring to a boil, slowly

Mix the figs (4 to 6 cups), water (1/2 cup) and sugar (6 cups) in the pot on the stove and get it simmering, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.






Is your jam too runny? Pectin enables you to turn out perfectly set jam every time. Made from natural apples, there are also natural no-sugar pectins that allow you to reduce the sugar you add by half or even eliminate sugar!
Get canning jars, rings, lids and pectin deliverd:

Step 7 - Once the sugar has dissolved, increase the heat to bring to boil that reached the gelling point (around 180 F)

As the mixture thickens, keep stirring or it will burn.  When it starts to thicken (maybe 10 minutes in), add the lemon juice.  It can take a while (15 - 30 minutes to gently boil off enough water and reach the temperature required for a gel. You can take the temperature of the jelly with a candy or jelly thermometer. When the jam is ready, the temperature of should be 220°F. See the next step for details of determining when the jam is done.

Testing for gell in jams and jelliesStep 8 - Testing for "jell" (thickness)

I keep a metal tablespoon sitting in a glass of ice water, then take a half spoonful of the mix and let it cool to room temperature on the spoon. If it thickens up to the consistency I like, then I know the jam is ready. If not, let it cook longer, get hotter.  Get a few jars out of the dishwasher (still hot) and get your funnel, lid lifter and ladle ready.  I put an old towel down - it makes cleanup easier.

If the jam is "gelling", take it off the heat.  If not keep going.

If you have a candy thermometer you can take the temperature of the jam (but I find the spoon method above is pretty reliable).

For an accurate thermometer reading, place the thermometer in a vertical position and read at eye level. The bulb of the thermometer must be completely covered with the jelly but must not touch the bottom of the saucepot. (Remember to test the accuracy of the thermometer by placing it in boiling water.)

NOTE: to those who are substantially above sea level: you want  8°F above the boiling point of water at your altitude.  For each 1000 feet of altitude above sea level, subtract 2 degrees F. For instance, at 1,000 feet of altitude, the jelly is done at 218°F; at 2,000 feet, 216°F, etc.

Step 9 - Skim any excessive foam

Skimming the fom off the jamFoam... What is it?  Just jam with a lot of air from the boiling. Foam, skimmed off the jam But it tastes more like, well, foam, that jam, so most people remove it.  It is harmless, though.  Some people add 1 teaspoon of butter or margarine to the mix in step 6 to reduce foaming, but food experts debate whether that may contribute to earlier spoilage, so I usually omit it and skim.

But save the skimmed foam!  You can recover jam from it to use fresh!  See this page for directions!





Step 10 - Fill the jars and put the lid and rings on

Fill them to within 1/4-inch of the top, wipe any spilled jam off the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them.

This is where the jar tongs and lid lifter come in really handy!



Putting jars into the water bath cannerStep 11 - Process the jars in the boiling water bath

Keep the jars covered with at least 2 inches of water. Keep the water boiling. In general, boil them for 5 minutes.  I say "in general" because you have to process (boil) them longer at higher altitudes than sea level, or if you use larger jars, or if you did not sanitize the jars and lids right before using them.  The directions inside every box of pectin will tell you exactly.  The directions on the pectin tend to be pretty conservative.  Clemson University says you only need to process them for 5 minutes.  I usually hedge my bets and start pulling them out after 7 minutes, and the last jars were probably in for 10.  I rarely have a jar spoil, so it must work.

Note: Some people don't even boil the jars; they just ladle it hot into hot jars, but putting the jars in the boiling water bath REALLY helps to reduce spoilage! To me, it makes little sense to put all the working into making the jam and then not to process the jars to be sure they don't spoil!





Step 12 - Remove and cool the jars - Done!

Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight) You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.

Once cooled, they're ready to store. I find they last about 18 months. After that, the get darker in color and start to get runny. They still seem safe to eat, but the flavor is bland. So eat them in the first 12 to 18 months after you prepare them!

Other Equipment:

From left to right:

  1. Jar lifting tongs
    to pick up hot jars
  2. Lid lifter
    - to remove lids from the pot
    of boiling water (sterilizing )
  3. Lids
    - disposable - you may only
    use them once
  4. Ring
    - holds the lids on the jar until after the jars cool -
    then you remove them, save them and reuse them
  5. Canning Jar funnel
    - to fill the jars

Canning tool kit

You can get all of the tools in a kit here:

See here for related tools, equipment, supplies on Amazon

Summary - Cost of Making Homemade Fig Jam - makes 7 jars, 8 oz each**

Item Quantity Cost in 2024 Source Subtotal
Figs 5 lbs (about 1 gallon) $9.00/gallon Pick your own $10.00
Canning jars (8 oz size), includes lids and rings 7 jars $11/dozen 8 oz jars
or $0.92/jar
Grocery stores, like Public, Kroger, Safeway and sometimes, Big Lots, local hardware stores and big box stores $5.00
Sugar 6 cups $2.50 Grocery stores, like Public, Kroger, Safeway and sometimes, Big Lots, local hardware stores and big box stores $2.50
Lemon juice 1/4 cup .50 Grocery stores, like Public, Kroger, Safeway $0.50
Total $18.00 total
or about $2.57 per jar

* - This assumes you already have the pots, pans, ladles,, and reusable equipment. Note that you can reuse the jars! If you already have jars or reuse them, just buy new lids (the rings are reusable, but the flat lids are not)!

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Comments, Tips and Feedback:

  • A visitor writes on September 03, 2013: "Thank you for the Fig Jam recipe! My jam came out a golden color due to the type of fig used. I wish I had the red ones but it's still pretty and the taste is wonderful and the directions were right on target. I'm so proud of my little jars of jam! I didn't need to peel many of the figs so I had plenty of natural pectin and didn't need to add the extra 20% suggested in the recipe. Thanks again!!"
  • Comments from a visitor on August 13, 2012: "Wanted to take the time to say thank-you. I've been canning for years but never tried fig preserves. Looked through dozens of recipes and none of them rang true until i got to your website. I was kind of laughing throughout the whole process because you seem to function and think exactly like i do when I'm in canning mode. I loved the fact that you kind of talked me through this. The tip about the extra pectin proved helpful. The only thing I changed was to run the figs through a blender because my peels just seemed to be floating in the preserves and didn't look too appealing so i just blended the whole batch. It seemed to work just fine. I'm listening to the joyful sound of lids clinking as they seal the deal."
  • Comments from a visitor on June 23, 2011: "I just wanted to thank you for your fig recipes and process pages. We have a good sized fig tree out our kitchen window and each year, since the first year of our marriage 12 years ago, I make fig and strawberry fig preserves for my husband. I have tried several recipes for regular fig jam and this one is by far, hands down, my new go to favorite recipes. Easy and Delicious with just right consistency. Also, I've always used the strawberry jello method for strawberry fig jam and usually do not eat it because it is too syrupy sweet for me. This year I made your recipe, I love your quote, there is no jello in preserves, and love, love it. My husband is on a mission trip and is returning tomorrow. I am so excited to share these jams with him. I should get extra bonus points. Thank you again. Oh, and I just made deck jam: That means I only used the figs I could reach from the deck or a chair. The tree is still 3/4 full and most are not even ripe yet. I see more canning in my future.
  • Comments from a visitor on July 22, 2010: "I just want to say your Fig Jam recipe is WONDERFUL! I started canning after my grandmother passed away. I can remember canning with her when I was little but I didn't really know the steps. I found your website and fell in love. It was so easy to follow. Also everyone that has tried them says they are the best fig preserves they have ever had. I plan on trying a lot more of your recipes. Thanks so much! Lauren"

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