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Gourmet Sweet Balsamic Fig and Onion Jam with Black Pepper & Vanilla

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fig and onion jam


You might be scratching your head about now thinking, do all of these flavors actually play nicely together?? Yes!!! Yes, they do!

So amazingly so, I honestly could not believe that a few simple pantry items would come together so extremely well that it made me actually say out loud, “I made this?? ME?!!! Wow…!!”

It’s something so special that it tastes like something you’d find at a VERY expensive wine tasting party at some fancy winery in California, set out on an exclusive buffet amongst exotic cheeses, fresh fruits, toasted baguettes and water crackers!

And it could not be easier to make! How’s that for spectacular?!

I had exactly what I wanted to go for in my head, as I wanted the figs to simmer with balsamic and onions, and sugar and vanilla of course, but had no clue after that.

Then I remembered that a fellow friend had just made some awesome sounding fig jam, face-palmed, and immediately went to check the ingredients and the amounts. Hers was pretty much SPOT ON to what I had in mind to make!! I SO wish I could take the credit for this recipe, though mine isn’t exactly like hers as she didn’t add balsamic vinegar, (I really had balsamic vinegar on the brain and was going to be a must!), but this show-stopping recipe was adapted from a wonderful chef and friend, Jenni Field!   And she deserves the credit!!

Especially for the black pepper! I never would’ve thought to add that and it was fantastic! She is an AMAZING Pastry Chef and a kind, caring and giving person to boot! And so much fun, that she’s just one of those people that you wished you lived closer to so that you could meet them in person!

So thank you, Jenni, for all of your help! As I had few clues as to what in the world I was going to do with a bag of fresh-picked figs given to me by my next door neighbor, who gave them to me in turn, for sharing my Huckleberry Butter Cake with them.

They were given the figs by her friend who has a fig tree. And so the gift-tree of sharing grew!!  And it will continue to sprout and branch further when I share a bit of this jam back to them! As the way the world should work. Together. It should, and could be, just that simple. 

And as simple as these ingredients are, the flavors of the jam are anything but! Very tastebud-tantalizing and complex in flavors, but yet nothing is overpowering and stealing the limelight from the figs, which after all, are the star of the show.

*Here are the figs going into the pan with the onions and the rest of the surprising ingredients!





The aroma was instantly swoon-worthy!!  Intoxicating to the senses! I knew from the start that this was going to be something special!

Like Christmas morning special!! Winning the lottery special!! Maid service for a YEAR special!! Yeah, THAT kind of special!!!

Here’s a photo taken after the simmering and before the mashing and blending…decadently rich and sweet!




Next I scooped out 1/2 cup of the liquid (*reserving in a small bowl), mashed the figs just a bit to get them started after having visions of figs, onions and balsamic vinegar flying out of the pan and covering the walls, ceiling and me!! – – and then proceeded with caution using my hand-held wand mixer to turn this pot of heavenly goodness into a sexy, sweet and interesting gourmet-style jam!   




I let this jam rest in the fridge overnight to see what the consistency would be, and then ended up adding back most of the reserved balsamic juice anyways.

It was very thick, like some of the expensive “fruit spreads”, and I wanted a slightly thinner, more easily spreadable jam.

So I actually recommend doing it this way, and then you can add back as much as you’d like to your own specific consistency desired.

*This will of course all depend on how ripe your figs are, too. Mine that were given to me were very ripe, so if yours are super fresh, you really might not have to remove any of the liquid at all probably.

Just remember, that once you’ve mixed it all together, you really can’t take it back out. It’s much easier to add back in to get it to the consistency you want.

So just take note and keep that in mind. And that really is all there is to it! The amount it makes didn’t warrant canning and preserving, as I gave about a third of it away to share and the rest will be used promptly.

So if wanting to can, please follow the strict guidelines for canning. *Including adjusting any acidic, sugar or other ingredients. 

Here’s a photo of the cute little jar that we shared with the neighbors! Not exactly “gourmet packaging”! LOL! But pretty darn cute considering it was thrown together in less than 5 minutes time with what I had on hand! 😉 🙂




Wouldn’t these make darling gifts?  Especially in a basket with some goat cheese, a crusty fresh-baked french baguette and some gourmet water crackers? Toss in a little cheese board with knife set, a bottle of wine, and I think someone would be a very happy camper!  Hope you all enjoy, and please be sure to stop by Jenni’s place to check out her original recipe and website! Have a fantastic day all! 

***UPDATE! A report back from the neighbors – – on a scale from 1 – 10….they said it’s a 12!!!! 🙂





1 1/2 – 1 3/4 lbs. fresh figs, thinly slice off stem end to remove stems

1 small onion, halved and sliced (*I used enough for the figs and onion to equal 2 lbs. total) 

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup aged sweet balsamic vinegar

1 Tbl. lemon juice concentrate, or fresh lemon juice if you’re lucky enough to have it

1/4 tsp. kosher salt

1/4 tsp. coarse ground black pepper

1/2 tsp. real vanilla extract



Place all ingredients, *except vanilla extract, into a heavy-bottomed, deep saucepan and heat, over medium-high heat, to just boiling. Reduce heat to low and nicely simmering, and simmer for 1 hour, uncovered, stirring gently now and then. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla. Let rest 15 minutes. *If desired, remove 1/2 cup of liquid and save, setting aside if the figs you are using are very ripe. (This is to re-add later per consistency of preference.)

Spoon into bowl and chill. When chilled, check thickness and fold in as much or little reserved balsamic-fig juice as desired. 

Wonderful served on toasted baguette slices or water crackers with goat cheese! *I also sprinkled with a bit of additional coarse ground black pepper for an extra punch and “garnish”. Or try Jenni’s pizza idea with bacon (or prosciutto), and any additional ingredients your heart may desire! 

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Wednesday 5th of July 2023

Delicious! Thank you for a unique and wonderful recipe! Next time I will add cayenne and maybe even some other type of spice, just for fun!

Sunday 16th of July 2023

@Nancy, thank you so much!! Oooh! Cayenne would be fantastic! Great idea!


Tuesday 26th of June 2018

I would love to can this, or freeze. How long do you think it will stay good frozen? I am making this recipe now!


Thursday 28th of June 2018

Hi LaVerne! I'm sure it would last months and months in the freezer! At least 6, maybe even longer?

Len Medford

Thursday 4th of January 2018

Have you ever made this with dried figs? If so, what quantity did you use?


Friday 5th of January 2018

I haven't, but I sure wouldn't see why you couldn't! :)