Gosh, Sarah and I have been watching the horror that is the news this week with incredulity and heavy hearts. My brother is in Osaka, far enough from the affected areas to be watching all of this unfold on the news just like us, but when the quake hit I was flooded with calls and messages asking if he was okay. Having spent the day away from my computer I hadn’t seen any of the footage and didn’t know the extent of the damage. It was a very strange, terrifying feeling.
Shigeru Ban Architects are providing emergency partitions for evacuees in the Tohoku region. You can donate here: And my brother has designed a support Japan T-shirt that you can buy here. It’s super cute. (Remember Japanese sizes are nearly a full size smaller than Aussie or American sizes.) Little things, but it sure beats watching eerily quiet utube videos of the tsunami and feeling horrible.
This horror is in stark contrast to the pretty days we have been having in Melbourne. Climbing fig trees and basking in the autumnal sunshine. We have fresh figs and we have jam. When I went across town in search of an accessible fig tree – thanks Caro for the tree, and for climbing it like a spritely little monkey – the old man who lived next-door was giving preserving advice from over the fence. “Don’t put in too much sugar,” he yelled at us. “Always, people put in too much sugar, the figs, they are sweet enough.”
So we took his advice and followed suggestions from Caro who with such an abundant tree has had to get creative with her preserving. This jam has a savoury lilt to it, perfect to serve with crackers, thinly sliced crisp pear and cheese or on a turkey sandwich. You can taste the wine. But saying that, I’ve been just eating it on thick slices of sourdough toast every morning.
Cabernet Fig Jam
2 salad bowls of figs cut roughly (I know, sorry, we forgot to weigh them …)
3 cups red wine
1 cup water
2 lemons worth of rind
Juice of one lemon
500ml pear concentrate
2 cups sugar
50g pectin/jam setter (best to follow packet instructions closely)
Place everything but the sugar and pectin in a large non reactive saucepan and bring to the boil. Make sure the figs are covered with liquid, add more water as necessary. When boiling reduce heat and simmer until the mixture thickens, and is reduced by one half to two thirds.
Remove the pot from the stove and carefully strain the mixture through a colander- so the seeds escape into your jelly but the fig skins are not. Return to the heat.
Spread sugar onto a tray and warm in the oven until warm to the touch. Place the sugar in the pot and when dissolved simmer until the mixture thickens a little.
Add the pectin as per the packet instructions (they vary quite considerably).
Jam will set when you can place a teaspoonful on a cold saucer and when you make ‘a line’ (skim your finger through the middle of the saucer) the jam stays on either side of ‘the line’.
Place in a sterilized jar, and when opened keep in the fridge.