|My homemade fig honey|
I am on a quest with my family to cut back all our use of processed white sugar, and replacing it with chemical free, frugal sweeteners. In my attempt to find something to use as a sweetener instead of expensive honey and maple syrup, I was trying to figure out what I could use to make my own healthier sweetener. (Note- too much of any sweetener isn't so healthy, but I'm trying to use sweeteners as close to how they come in nature, without having been bleached or stripped of the nutrients that come together with the sweetness.)
A friend suggested to me to try to make a sweetener from one of the fruit I am able to get in my area either for free, either by gleaning or foraging, or at very low cost in season at the store or farmer's market. The first thing that came to mind was to try to make a sweetener out of figs, as I've got plenty of fig trees growing in my area, and I'm never quite sure what to do with them, and because they're so sugary and sweet.
I googled and scoured the internet, but didn't really come across with any good ways of making a sweetener out of figs.
So, I used my head and came up with this awesome idea- making fig honey! Ok, maybe honey is the wrong word to use and syrup would be a better description, but all the fig syrups I found on the internet contained white sugar, which is something completely different than what I made. This is a sweetener made entirely out of figs and water, nothing more.
And it contains no fig solids either, which makes it a good replacement for honey in recipes.
A large amount of fresh ripe, and ideally overripe figs, the more the better. 4-5 pounds of figs will make approximately 2 cups of fig honey. Fig type doesn't make a difference.
2 large pots
1 mixing spoon
1 potato masher
1 mesh strainer (optional)
1 large bowl
1. Wash figs well, but try not to smash them at all.
2. Place figs in a large pot, and cover with water. Bring to a boil.
3. Cook figs in water for 20 minutes or so, until they get soft and water in which you've cooked the figs is pretty sweet. At some point during these 20 minutes, once the figs get soft, mash them with a potato masher.
4. Put the colander inside the large bowl and pour the figs and the water into the bowl, straining out the fig solids.
5. You'll likely have fig seeds in the water, so take this water and strain it through a mesh strainer lined with a cheesecloth, into your other large pot.
6. Put the fig water on the stove and bring to a boil.
7. Put the figs back in the first pot, and fill with water to cover. Bring to a boil.
8. Repeat steps 3-5 many times, until the water in which you boil the figs is no longer sweet. Each time, add the fig water to that pot of fig water boiling on the stove.
9. Boil the fig water for a while. You want a lot of water to evaporate from it. Boil and boil and boil it until it starts to thicken like a syrup.
10. At one point, you may start to see the fig water boiling up, becoming really frothy and threatening to escape the pot. This means you're almost finished.
11. Take a spoonful of the fig water/syrup and put it on a plate. Stick the plate in the freezer for 2-3 minutes, until cooled. Remove from freezer and note if the cooled liquid has a syrup like sticky consistency or is still watery. If it is still watery, continue to boil down for a few minutes, and then repeat step 11 until the chilled syrup is sticky.
12. Cool down the syrup and transfer to another container.
This syrup tastes terrific as a replacement for honey and sugar in nearly any recipe. It is very, very sweet; I find I need very little syrup to sweeten a large amount of food.
I am pretty sure you can do something similar with any other sweet (and not tart) fruit you can get cheaply in your area.
What do you think of my idea? I'm so excited about having discovered it!!! This is one healthy sweetener that cost me nothing other than the price of the gas to run my stove!!!
Do you ever eat figs? Do they grow in your area? Do you think you'd ever try something like this, or do you think it's too much work to make it worth your while?
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