“He’s Worse Than a Flock of Cockatoos”: Cultured Fig Butter

A fistful of foraged figs.

A fistful of foraged figs.

First, an explanation…

Work for me is a very relaxed affair.  I work with my father-in-law throughout the spring and summer months, and he tends to be very flexible with our approach to work.  This came in handy the other day when we revisited a property that I knew to have several large and very productive fig trees growing wild on it.  Last year I simply stood under the trees whilst “working” and loaded my stomach.  This year I went armed with plastic bags to fill.

I have started to build a strong mental map of a lot of the productive and worthwhile wild fruit and nut trees in the area, and this explains the title of the post.  Cockatoos love to find such trees and strip them of their fruit … almost always right before you decide to go and pick it yourself.  I’m not much better, although I always leave plenty for other people, and I won’t take one bite and drop it on the ground.  Regardless, I was recently described as being “worse than a flock of cockatoos” when it comes to finding fruit trees.

I love food.  I love to eat.  If it is free food, then all the better.

We semi-dried some of the figs on an old bird cage in the car.

We semi-dried some of the figs on an old bird cage in the car.

So Emily and I found ourselves with a very large bag of figs (with more yet to come), and wanting to do something with them rather than just gorge and make ourselves sick (no mean feat for us).  Looking for answers and ideas, I returned yet again to my ABSOLUTE favourite resource for all things food, Sandor Katz’s ‘The Art of Fermentation’.  I am currently off work for a week, so much of my time has been spent finding things to ferment and create.  Therefore, I can’t take credit for the following recipe, but I can wholeheartedly recommend it if you find yourselves with a glut of figs and wanting to do something more with them that is quick, extremely easy, and delicious.

I present … Cultured Fig Butter (as per the instructions found in ‘The Art of Fermentation’):

Fig butter_Fotor_Collage

Ingredients
*Only alteration made

Makes 1 litre

  • 4 cups of dried figs (*I used semi dried figs, drying the figs for 3 days prior.  This was a quick method as it eliminates the required soaking of dried figs)
  • 1 tablespoon of sea salt
  • 1/4 cup whey (I used yogurt whey)
  • 1/4 – 1/2 cup raw honey (as best as you can find available)
  • Water, as necessary
The semi-dried figs after a couple of days in the car

The semi-dried figs after a couple of days in the car

Method

  1. Destem figs and soak for 1 hour in warm water (*refer above for quick method if you have fresh figs)
  2. Process all ingredients together in a food processor until smooth, adding water as needed to create the desired consistency and allow for smooth blending.
  3. Pour mixture into an appropriate container, adding water and stirring if needed, until the level of the butter reaches to 1 1/2 inches of the brim (2.5 – 4cm).
  4. Seal jar tightly, and leave at room temperature for 2 days (or until bubbly), and then transfer to a refrigerator.  The butter should be cultured and ready to eat in 3 weeks to a month.  Consume within 2 months.
Humpy Creek honey being put to good use once again!

Humpy Creek honey being put to good use once again!

It is as easy as that. This took roughly 10 minutes to prepare, and was almost as easy as standing under the tree itself and eating whilst I was meant to be working.

Serving suggestion: I can already see the butter spread across a thick piece of sourdough and topped with as much prosciutto as I can possibly fit onto it.

The almost finished fig butter, now to wait for it to ferment.

The almost finished fig butter, now to wait for it to ferment.