Maw Maw B’s Preserved Figs

This recipe for Preserved Figs by Bernadette Provost (aka Maw Maw B) showcases ripe figs simmered in a thick, sweet syrup. They’re perfect for serving with cheese.

Maw Maw B’s Preserved Figs

Victor Protasio / Food Styling by Margaret Dickey / Prop Styling by Jillian Knox

Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
3 hrs 25 mins
2 (12-ounce) jars

A lot of what sugarcane farmer June Provost learned about cooking with sugar comes from his mother, Bernadette Provost, affectionately known as Maw Maw B. Maw Maw B’s canned figs have graced New Iberia, Louisiana, for decades, and the Provost family often gives the figs as gifts during the holidays. To make them, she simmers juicy ripe figs with sugar until softened, jammy, and glazed in a thick, sweet syrup. A touch of lemon juice adds a punch of brightness to balance the sticky-sweet fruit. These preserves work great as a side on a charcuterie board or as a simple spread with cheese and crackers. (Try spooning the syrup over sharp and tangy goat cheese.) The Provosts also enjoy the preserved figs spooned over Couche-Couche, a Cajun breakfast cereal.


  • 1 pound fresh figs (about 3 cups), peeled or unpeeled 

  • 6 cups granulated sugar

  • 1 1/2 cups water

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice (from 1 lemon)


  1. Rinse figs in cold water, and gently trim stem ends using kitchen shears.

  2. Stir together figs, sugar, 1 1/2 cups water, and lemon juice in a large (about 6-quart) Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot. Cook over medium, stirring often, until sugar is fully dissolved and mixture comes to a gentle simmer, 15 to 20 minutes, brushing down sides of pot as needed using a wet pastry brush to dissolve any sugar crystals along side of pot.

  3. Reduce heat to medium-low, and cook, maintaining a very gentle simmer, stirring occasionally, until mixture thickens to a light, syrupy consistency and figs are soft and glossy, 1 hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes. Take care to stir occasionally so mixture doesn't stick to pot, and brush sides of pot as needed. Do not let syrup boil; it should remain at a very gentle simmer.

  4. Remove mixture from heat. Let cool completely at room temperature, 2 to 3 hours. Using a slotted spoon, transfer figs evenly into 2 (12-ounce) sterilized mason jars. Carefully ladle syrup over figs, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace at top of each jar. (Reserve remaining syrup for another use.) Secure lids on jars.

To Make Ahead

Store preserved figs in refrigerator up to 1 month. Bring to room temperature before serving.


Leftover syrup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator up to 1 month. Add syrup to cocktails or tea for a sweet fig flavor.

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