Fig trees ficus carica have an ancient and exotic history and were first bought to New Zealand by early european settlers.
They not cheap to buy – but if you are lucky enough to have access to a decent sized tree they can be very abundant when in season.
Figs are best picked when soft and fully ripe. It follows that they don't keep for long. Depending on the variety and climate, figs might be ready in in early summer, but are mostly not ready until late summer and into early autumn.
If you have more figs that you can get through, here's a classic recipe for turning extras into a delicious paste.
2.5kg fresh figs
8 cups water
lemon or lime
citric acid (optional)
Wash and chop figs and place in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Add chopped lemon and enough water to cover.
Bring to the boil, reduce heat and simmer until the figs are totally soft. Strain this mixture through a large wire sieve.
Use a wooden spoon to push some of the soft fig mixture through the sieve.
Reduce this liquid down until it is strong and fruity tasting. Add a little citric acid if you think it needs more zing. Measure this liquid and return it to the pot with an equal (or slightly less) amount of sugar.
Place on medium heat and stir until the sugar dissolves.
Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally until the paste is very thick.
This may take several hours. Stir it regularly and take care not to burn the mixture.
Pour the fruit paste into small, shallow plastic containers or small clean glass jars. Leave to set.
Once cool you can cover these with a lid or plastic wrap.
Alternatively, pour into a greased tray, and once set turn out, cut into wedges and wrap in greaseproof paper.
If the paste stays sticky and doesn’t set firm you can simply boil it up again and reduce it a little more. Alternatively you can add more water and keep it as a thick syrup (pictured here).
Store in refrigerator. (Unless you pour it into clean sealable jars with fitting lids). Your paste will keep for many months.