Fig Jam (Μαρμελάδα σύκο)

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If you’re a frequent reader of this blog you will have seen and read the many reasons why so many people visit Greece: the sun, the beaches, history, monuments, museums, nightlife, the food, the wine, the fresh vegetables and fruit. Today we’re going to pay particular attention to the fruit – figs to be more specific.

The first time I ate a fig (beyond a Fig Newton) was during my first trip to Greece back in 1974. Back then my relatives lived in Thessaloniki and they had no fig trees on their property. Fast-forward 6 years and the same relatives owned property here in Halkidiki – fig trees are everywhere and probably as common as the maple tree here in Canada.

Figs can be found at farmer’s markets, supermarkets and even better…free and up for grabs dangling from one of the thousands of trees that grow throughout Greece. A ripe fig is soft to the touch, the skin peels off easily and some figs (the royal’s skin) is so thin that you may certainly eat in whole. A ripe fig is undoubtedly sweet, almost to the point of being like a jam. This is the way figs should taste and I refuse to pay or eat one of those figs that arrives at the market back in Toronto after traveling for two weeks on a truck from California.

If you live in a part of the world where figs grow then you ca relate to what I’m talking about. For the rest, booking a trip to Greece or another country that grows figs is worth the price of the ticket alone. You’ve never tasted a fig until you’ve picked a ripe one off a tree. Here in Greece, most figs are ripe by mid-August ( there are some fig trees that bear ripe fruit in June as well) but the figs this year were delayed by a week or so. The delay of figs ripening combined with many Greeks heading back into the city after August 15th left us here in Kallikratia (Halkidiki) with a glut of figs. Figs everywhere…gorge yourself on figs!

I usually eat figs as they are  – ripe and picked off the tree but a yogurt parfait is also delish and now I’m in love with this fig jam that comes by way of our family friend Haryklia. Again, you’re going to need ripe figs, sugar, water, lemon, a bit of vanilla extract and the kicker in this recipe? Fresh basil! Yes, fresh basil is what gives this particular fig jam the pep, that somethin’-somethin’ that will have family and friends guessing what else is in the fig jam. Once again, the philosophy of “what grows together goes together in cooking” remains true. A new ritual of also making fig jam every August has just begun.

Fig Jam (Μαρμελάδα σύκο

(makes 3 large jars)

65-70 ripe medium/large figs

2- 1/2 cups granulated sugar (depends how saweet you like it or how sweet your figs are)

1 cup water

splash of vanilla extract

1 branch of fresh basil

zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

  1. Rinse your figs and snip off stems then cut in half. Place in a pot with sugar, water and vanilla and bring to a boil. Simmer for 45 minutes then allow to cool completely (takes about 4 hours). Mash the figs to your desired consistency (I liked some chunks of fig in my jam).
  2. Return the pot to the stovetop over low heat and add the basil and reduce to medium and simmer for another 4 minutes.
  3. Add the lemon zest (plus lemon juice if you like) and simmer until desired consistency achieved. Remove basil leaves and allow to cool completely. Jarring the jam is easy and one must remember to keep everything clean throughout the process.

© 2011 – 2015,
Peter Minakis

. All rights reserved.

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20 Comments for “Fig Jam (Μαρμελάδα σύκο)”


I have never had the experience of picking a fig straight off a tree, but perhaps one day. Instead I can taste the intensity of flavour in jam.


I love figs…never had fig jam though…In India, we are told to have one dry fig every morning as it is packed with iron…tastes good, so never a problem :-)

beautiful pictures and a great recipe


I used to get an amazing fig jam – I think it was Turkish – with mastic in it. So delicious! I think your additions of vanilla and basil would give that same “Hey, what’s that? That’s amazing!” effect.


Peter έχω δοκιμάσει μαρμελάδα σύκο, πραγματικά πολύ ιδιαίτερη!
Φιλιά, καλή βδομάδα!


I second what you write about not knowing what a fig truly tastes like until you pick it off a tree. I prefer the purple ones too; this fig jam is intriguing and next time I am around fresh (good) figs I will give this a shot and taste and see.


Surprised to see basil in the recipe. A Greek friend from Athens gave me a jar of fig jam that was wonderful as an addition to yogurt. Now that its all gone, I will give this recipe a try.

Anna Xanthacou


I would love to try this recipe! Unfortunately, it will not happen where I live in Ottawa, Canada. I do have several fig trees that are potted and dragged in and out of the house depending on the outside temperature, there is no way any ripe figs will last long enough to make marmalade!

Maria Calderon Garza


I am getting ready to try this recipe today, but I wonder what you meant by “2-2 cups sugar”? 2-3?