Friday, July 22, 2011

Fruit Butter = Fig + Clementine

Renee (the blog's nutritionist) has taken a swing at preparing this recipe. Living the good life in Napa has given her time to boost the harvest of her backyard garden, and her fig trees have produced an abundance of fruit. When she asked me what to do with all of her left over figs, I gave her a recipe that originally called for blood oranges (which by the way are not in season). Ever witty and demanding as she is, she threatened my well-being with harm untold if the recipe turned out to be a disappointment. This whole Napa Valley society thing has gone to her head. Faithfully though, she made her way to the local shi shi market- no doubt driving in a way that would be considered utterly unacceptable to the valley elite, but completely normal for Renee.

Being that clementines were the only citrus fruits beautifully displayed among the fine bottles of wine and cheese- the standard diet of wine types, she flung them into this version. The result of her decision giving the butter a perfumed citrusy flavor. Locally, I serve this condiment with Illg's Westphalian Ham. Ernie Illg is a local charcuterie craftsman that still does it the traditional way. You can find a link for him on the home page. The fig butter and ham is a really great pairing and this recipe is so easy to make, as Renee has so generously volunteered to demonstrate in the pictures she sent me.

At one time I had seven fig trees in my yard. Foolishly I asked for help trimming off some of the branches that had begun to drag the ground after years of heavy neglect. I called on a friend who owned a landscaping company for assistance, and he kindly obliged. I left for work trusting that the trees were in good hands. I returned to find the trees bare of limbs and figs alike. Apparently figs are a favorite of the local "landscaping union". Luckily, they got the first crop of the year, which tends to be more acidic. I successfully harvested the second crop, which by all accounts lived up to the wait, and spent the season grilling them to place over salads, and coming up with fig butter recipes. Canning is a good use for the season's first harvest as you can sweeten them up a bit and control the acidity in the cooking process.

what you need:
figs, halved, fresh, 4 pints 
clementine segments, 1 pint
honey, 2 cups
clementine zest, dried, 3 oz.
ground cardamom, 1 Tbs.
cinnamon, ground, 1 tsp.
vanilla bean seeds, from 1 bean
clementine juice, 1/2 cup
water, 1 cup
how you make it: 
1. Cook all of the ingredients together until the liquid is reduced to almost dry.
2. Puree all of the ingredients and pour them into sterilized canning jars. Heat process and refrigerate until needed.