Whole fig preserve

September 15, 2010  •  Category:


One feature of life in Lebanon that is a big positive is the abundance of fruit trees that seem to grow everywhere; figs and olives being a prime example.

We had a large bucket of figs; they were not the best figs of the season but they were still sweet. Here is a traditional way to preserve them from Chef Ramzi’s The Culinary Heritage of Lebanon.


  • 2 pounds of figs
  • 2 cups of sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons  of fresh lemon juice


  1. Peel the figs; leave them whole. Place them in a dish and cover them with  sugar and about 1/2  cup of water and let them sit overnight.
  2. The next day, drop the figs and juice that has formed into a heavy-bottomed pot; bring to a simmer and as soon as the froth appears on the surface, add the fresh lemon juice. Stir gently so as not to smash the figs;
  3. Simmer gently for one hour or until the figs and the liquid are syrupy and thick. Test by scooping out  a teaspoon on a plate. Cool and keep in a jar in the fridge.


48 Comments  •  Comments Feed

  1. Patty Price says:

    I love the figs preserved whole- beautiful and delicious:)

  2. Amber @Almost Vegan says:

    Gorgeous! And it sounds delicious. If you gave me some of this on top of a wheel of brie, I might actually go so far as to eat cheese! Very unusual for me :]

  3. Marcela says:

    What a wonderful and easy recipe….I love it!!….Abrazotes, Marcela

  4. elra says:

    Lovely preserve, it’s one of my favorite way to enjoy fig as well.

  5. Susan says:

    Your fig preserve sounds wonderful! Now all I need is a large bucket of figs!

  6. fimère says:

    cela me semble succulent j’aime beaucoup les figues c’est mon fruit préféré bravo ma chère
    bonne soirée

  7. Lyndsey says:

    This looks so good! What a great recipe! Something I would love to try!

  8. Pamela says:

    Used to have a fig tree at home during my teens. Mom made the best fig preserve -after yours, I suppose- but it had that “mother taste” never found away from home. Big hugs

  9. T.W. Barritt says:

    Oh, doesn’t that preserve look silky and delicious?

  10. Sarah Galvin (All Our Fingers in the Pie) says:

    I have never thought to preserve them whole. I wish I had this info a couple of weeks ago. I had the opportunity to purchase a flat of fresh figs.

  11. I Sicilian says:

    you are posting such wonderful recipes lately, being in Beirut must be so inspirational.
    I love everything you’ve posted in the last months

  12. s@vegetarianirvana says:

    I read your blog everyday. No RSS feed, for me, I have to visit your site.I learn so much about Lebanese food and customs and you convey it so effectively in your simple and succinct write ups.I want to visit Lebanon because of you and experience the vibrancy of the country.

  13. Alfonso Cevola says:

    those look so delicious, can you bring some back to Texas?

  14. Jenn, Leftover Queen says:

    They look absolutely luscious!

  15. SYLVIA says:

    The figs are screaming for bread, one bite of this you won’t want to go back to store bought jam.I like how they bubble up in glossy sugar bath like lava. This preserve is classic for a reason, I love figs, fresh, dried or in jam, they’re luscious chewy and sweet. It beats candy if you want some instant sugar in a nutritional package, they’re excellent source of both insoluble and soluble fiber.

  16. Conor @ HoldtheBeef says:

    A bucket of figs? Heaven! This is a great recipe – I really like how they are kept whole.

  17. Heni says:

    I love figs in any form Mmm! Thanks for sharing Joumana I will def be trying this one out!

  18. Koek! says:

    Figs are hellishly expensive here in SA… I can’t imagine doing anything to them except eating them fresh with a few trimmings! How I wish I had the problem of having so many that I have to preserve them!
    Actually, I have a fig tree in my garden, but the figs never ripened properly last year. Not sure why. I hope they do this year – the tree is laden with baby fruit. Will keep this recipe in mind if I need it!

  19. Cocopassions says:

    Même si tu dis que ce n’était pas les meilleures figues, elles ont l’ai superbes

  20. Evelyne@cheapethniceatz says:

    Love figs, just made an ice cream with figs, just posted the recipe. These preserves look awesome. I have only one problem with it: by the time the figs make it to the pot there will only be 1 lb left lol.

  21. Bria @ WestofPersia says:

    This recipe is so simple and fabulous that I might just might have to make it, Joumana. Figs bring back happy memories for me. We used to have fig trees in the yard and my mom makes a mean fig preserve herself, but she does all of the steps of canning, which I’ve yet to learn.

  22. Bria @ WestofPersia says:

    Wow, total run-on sentence in my above comments. Whoops!

  23. Ivy says:

    I love figs especially fruit preserves and jam. I just remembered that I had some pictures of fig preserve in my camera which I forgot to upload.

  24. Marion says:

    Quelle chance d’avoir autant de jolis fruits par chez toi ! Ca donne envie de se mettre aux petits bocaux 😉

  25. Faith says:

    This is a lovely way of being able to enjoy figs year round! I bet there’s so many things you can do with this preserve!

  26. Magic of Spice-Alish says:

    How divine! I have some lovely figs, perhaps enough to give this a try. Gorgeous photos and preserves 🙂

  27. Marie says:

    You’re such a teeze with those luscious looking figs, and did you say bucket full? So jealous!

  28. A Canadian Foodie says:

    Now those would be sweet. I really have never figured out the fig allure. I had never had a fresh one until about 5-6 years ago. They are a miraculous fruit, for certain: so sweet and textural. But, the flavour is so mild that the appeal is lost on me.

    • Joumana says:

      @Valerie: Dear Valerie, I don’t know where you tasted figs; what I can say with certainty is that the fresh figs that one finds available in Lebanon (in season) are the sweetest and most appealing fruit known to man.

  29. Mathai says:

    That preserve looks lovely! We usually buy a block of dried compressed figs from an Irani spice shop nearby.

  30. Devaki says:

    So wonderful Joumana – I was enviously staring at a woman the othr day cart a whole box of fresh figs away at Costco and I must go back and get them and then do this. Ooh…with some goat cheese yummm!!!!

    Hugs, Devaki @ weavethousandlfavors

  31. northshorewoman says:

    that looks like Edde Sands….

  32. Soma says:

    Fig is one of our favorite fruits and we get it only for a couple of months here. In Texas figs grow well & I guess we have to make sure we plant some in the yard next spring. The fresh ones are just the best. What a beautiful way to preserve them I think I would just have it by itself.

  33. OysterCulture says:

    Oh my goodness, fresh figs are simply perfection and this preserve sounds like such a treat. I also love it (fig preserves) on toast with some blue cheese.

    I’ve only had store bought, but I think I need to make my own.

  34. Grapefruit says:

    Looks just beautiful. I’m going to try this out before Figs go out of season here – have been looking for ideas to use figs in recipes. Thanks for the inspiration!

  35. rima rifai says:

    Dear Joumana
    I tried your fig compote combining it with a recipe from the village (Shouf) but added a local geranium leaf (which gave it a wonderful fragrance) and some walnuts and sesame seeds. It turned out delicious. Thank you

  36. Jim says:

    I know this thread is a year old, but I hope you are still monitoring it…

    How long will these preserves last if refrigerated? Most of the recipes I have found call for canning, which is much more involved and time consuming, but results in preserves which can be kept unrefrigerated for months or years. I don’t have all the equipment to can, but would love to save some of the figs off my trees–I can’t eat all the fruit that is coming ripe at the moment, and would like to extend the bounty through the fall at least through a simple preserve.

    • Joumana says:

      @Jim: Frankly, I did not have to worry about their shelf life as the preserve was gone quickly; I had been sterilizing jars by throwing them in the oven for 15 minutes, and that works fine.

  37. Louise says:

    Hi Joumana –

    I have been making this recipe over the past 4 years on and off. (it is wildly popular in my house) I had the paper copy and it has been lost during moving – I am sure that when the recipe was originally posted – it included slices of lemons. Can you help? I have tracked you down by recognizing the image under google images – and I hope I can find the original somewhere at home. I hope you have the one with the slices. I just can’t remember whether I soak the slices of lemon overnight with the figs, or not? Thanks

    • Joumana says:

      @Louise: I don’t remember slices of lemon, but I will look into it tonight and repost it if i find that it has been placed in the wrong category. Give me a couple of hours. My pleasure.
      OK, I just checked and I don’t see slices of lemon; however, the idea is enticing! I may try it with them. YUM. I would just soak the slices of lemon with the figs and sugar and cook slowly until the whole lot thickens.

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