Fig Preserves

When August rolls around it’s a game of survival of the fittest – our family against the squirrels.
We have several fig trees in our back yard, and we wait patiently for days for the figs to ripen. Then we have to get out to the fig trees early in the morning to pick the ripe ones before our greedy little squirrels get them.  After a while they start coming in fast and furiously and we let the squirrels have a few. They sit brazenly on the deck railing just beyond our window and slowly devour a nice ripe fig leaving us just the pit.
We find lots of things to make with the figs but this is one of our favorites.
3 Lbs Figs – freshly picked
1 Lemon – cut in half
4 – Cups Sugar
2 tsps Vanilla
1ó Cups Water
Gently rinse figs and remove any little stems still attached. Place figs in a large bowl filled with cold water and let sit for 10 or 15 minutes. Meanwhile, make a simple syrup by boiling the sugar in the water in a heavy bottom pot that is large enough to comfortably hold the figs. When the syrup is thick and clear – about 15 minutes, gently add the figs, vanilla and cut lemon halves. Bring to a boil over high heat and let boil for about a minute or two. Lower heat to simmer and continue cooking for 30 – 40 minutes. Once or twice during the process, give the figs a stirring. 20 minutes into the process remove the lemons unless you would like a stronger lemon flavor. (At this point, I carefully taste the syrup to check on the lemon flavor.) When figs are soft, and the syrup is thickened, remove the pot from the stove. Very carefully, using a spoon, add the figs to a blender jar and give a few pulses before adding more figs. (Put a towel over the cover and hold the cover down when blending hot stuff.) When all the figs are pulsed, add as much of the liquid as you wish to loosen the preserves and then pulse again. As they cool, they will continue to thicken. After all are blended, ladle into clean, hot sterilized jars. Let cool a little, cover and refrigerate.