North Carolina-based mystery author Margaret Maron just published her twenty-fifth title, Sand Sharks. Maron, like her protagonist Judge Deborah Knott, grew up working on a farm and did her fair share of fruit-picking and jam-making. Even though she's got another deadline fast approaching for her 2010 book, Maron is sneaking away from her keyboard this month to pick figs from her three backyard bushes. Of all the jars in her pantry, her aunt's fig preserves are always the quickest to disappear, so she graciously shared the recipe with us.
In a large pot, layer 8 pounds of figs and 5 pounds of sugar and 1 diced whole lemon (minus the seeds and white internal membranes.) Refrigerate overnight.
Add 1 to 2 tablespoons pickling spice.
Boil until thick and translucent, then seal in clean hot jars.
If your jars, rings, and lids are all good and hot (I keep mine in a roasting pan in the oven at 225°F until ready to fill), the jars will seal without a pressure canner or water bath.