Steely-eyed, I held the gaze of the man at the check-in counter. It was our second meeting. “Yes,” I repeated, “I need to check this bag.”
“You're sure about that.” He was bored, but the moment might have punctuated a long irritating day at an airline check-in desk with a diverting few seconds.
“You want to check this bag because of this?” and he held it up to the light, looking at it, through it, my dark-amber colored, homemade fig jam.
My fig jam, classified as a liquid in our heightened state of security and alert. My friend had given it to me, and when the TSA bag searcher rooted it out of my bag and held it aloft, like a grenade, declaring, “this is a liquid, ma'am, unauthorized quantity, we'll have to dispose of it,” I felt my face get hot and I practically shouted, “my best friend from home made it! It's not a liquid! And I'm not throwing it out!”
He shrugged his shoulders. “Suit yourself. Go check your bag.”
The check-in man thought he'd trumped me when he told me it would be twenty bucks to check my small carry-on. “For this.” he said, still holding the jam at eye level. “Pretty expensive jar of jam, don't you think?”
I did. But it was worth it.
And those mornings when I have this lovely jam on crispy buttered white toast, I don't think about the twenty bucks, I think of my dear oldest childhood friend whom I hardly ever get to see, but whose friendship has only sweetened over the decades as we've lived our lives separated by most of the continent. Wende's fig jam is sunny, and seedy, and not too sweet, the preposterous gift of a fig in the middle of winter.
Now is, of course, not the time to make this jam. But if in late summer you're lucky enough to come into a fortune of figs, cast your mind back to this recipe and make up a batch. You will have enough to give to friends, and they will think of you fondly with every piece of toast.
Possibly the World's Most Expensive Fig Jam
2 quarts (about 5 lbs) of chopped fresh figs
3/4 c. water
8 c. sugar
1/4 c. lemon juice
To prepare figs, place chopped figs in a bowl, pour boiling water over them to cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Then drain.
Put figs in a large pot on the stove and add 3/4 c. water and sugar. Bring to a boil and cook rapidly until thick. Stir often so it doesn't burn or get sticky. Add lemon juice and stir and cook for 1 more minute.
Pour jam into HOT STERILE jars. Twist on lid. It will seal with the heat and the center of the lid will pop down as it sits!
(Recipe came from the Home Canning Booklet from Kerr's Canning Jars.
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