Do you know the story of figs? How they begin as an inward facing flower, and how each ripe fig contains the essential spirit of a fig wasp? It’s an amazing evolutionary tale, and then you taste, and the world spins again.
Sometimes, at least, for figs are an acquired taste. Because most of us tasted a fig newton far before we encountered a ripe or even a dried fig, the actual acquisition of that taste is destined to be a somewhat uncertain process. And yet the fig marches forward, even showing up lately in grocery stores in the Upper Midwest.
Because of the food miles involved, I don’t make a lot of this ketchup, but it was the very first ketchup I built from scratch, inspired by a simple basket of fresh figs. Oh, and black garlic. Ohhh.
- 1 pint fresh black mission figs
- 3/4 cup malt vinegar
- 1 cup date syrup
- 1/4 cup tamarind paste
- 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
- 2 cloves black garlic, broken into smaller chunks (or 2 tsp black garlic powder)
- 5 oz of onion, roughly chopped
1Set the oven to 350 degrees. Remove stems, slice the figs in half, and set cut-side down on a baking tray. (You may use parchment here, but I find that the parchment absorbs too much of the caramelized fruit bits. I prefer a well seasoned baking sheet.) Bake for 20 minutes, but keep an eye that the sugars don’t start to burn. Figs can be quite variable in ripeness and moisture content, so you just don’t know where that sweet spot is going to be. The further apart they are spaced, the more likely the sugary goop is to burn instead of simply caramelizing. When it looks like you could spread the figgy goodness on toast, remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
2Combine liquid ingredients in a heavy saucepan over low heat. Whisk in spices. Add the onions and figs. Use a metal spatula to scrape off any figgy goodness from the baking pan and set the spatula in the mixture so this softens and dissolves.
3Simmer over low heat until the onion is soft. Remove from heat and allow to cool, then run through a blender or food processor until smooth. CAUTION: very hot liquid in a blender or food processor can expand explosively.
4If canning, return to heat and proceed as your great grandmother might have. Otherwise, store in the fridge, where it should last for months.
See also: Pro Tips for Ketchup Crafting