Greek-style Fig Spoon Fruit

If you have a fig tree in your garden you may be facing, as I was, loads of tiny, little unripe green figs and wondering what to do about them. I picked all mine and cooked and soaked them in many changes of water to remove fig latex. Yes, latex. It’s the white liquid that oozes from cut stems and can be allergic. It is worth a google, as it has good properties too. The little figs were tender before they had their final cook and cool in lemon and vanilla-flavoured sugar syrup. They are bottled up waiting, looking enticingly mysterious. In Greece I’ve seen and been served from a big jar of home produced spoon fruits (thank you Elisavet and Andonis) that sits (on a lace doily) on the dining room table. They are very sweet but delicious in their way; mine are less sweet and I’m hoping to serve just 3 or 4 with something creamy as a dessert.

Fills 3-4 wide-necked jars

Prep: 45 min plus several hours soaking and marinating

Cook: 40 min

750g small unripe figs

600g caster sugar

600ml water

4 strips lemon zest

3 tbsp lemon juice

½ vanilla pod split

6 cloves

     Rinse and trim the fig stalks and use a skewer or similar to make a hole in the swollen base. Rinse thoroughly to remove oozing bitter latex then leave the figs immersed in water for 4 hours. Simmer the figs in fresh water immersed with a lid or plate for 15 minutes. Drain, immerse in cold water and leave to cool. Repeat. Meanwhile, make the syrup by simmering 500ml water with 600g white sugar, stirring to avoid burning. Boil the figs in the syrup for 15 minutes then turn off the heat. Leave, covered, for 12 hours so the figs are thoroughly saturated with syrup. Remove the figs to a bowl, add lemon juice and zest, crumbled ball of cloves and split vanilla to syrup. Simmer, stirring carefully with a wooden spoon, until thick. Return the figs and any juices, boil for a couple of minutes. Have ready sterilised jars – I filled 3, with sufficient syrup to pour over the top and immerse the figs. Cool, label and store in the dark.