What to do with green figs?

What to do with green figs?

As the saying goes….“Waste not, Want not”. In the Spring, the fig tree produces its first batch of figs from last years reserves.  These figs don’t ever fully ripen.   To make good use of them a recipe evolved to make something inedible into something utterly delicious.  A traditional South African recipe, Green Fig Preserve.

Green Fig Preserve

Step 1: pick figs- thanks to our volunteer Dinai for helping!

Step 1 GFP

Green Figs

Step 2: soak overnight in brine

Step 2 GFP

Step 3: rinse figs and cut a cross at the base of each fig

Step 3 GFP

Step 4: boil figs in syrup, lemon and ginger for 2 hrs and then leave to soak over night

Step 4 GFP

Step 5: and voila…green figs in a jar! Best to leave for a week or two and then it’s time for tasting!

Step 5 GFP


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Showing 70 comments
  • mavis moya

    Wonderful.Thanks for this recipe Making the preserve today with figs from my tree in Greece. will make me homesick for South Africa.

  • Kathy

    Obviously I’m not very bright…what do you make the brine out of? How much sugar to how many kilos of green figs? And the ginger and lemon amounts? Sorry….

    • Nathalie Ammann

      I’ll e-mail you the recipe.

      • anne

        Would love if the recipe was added here

      • Lorraine Erasmus

        Hi Natalie

        Would you please be so kind and mail me the recipe as well – topdeck@live.co.za

      • Tracy

        Thank you – would also love the recipe for amounts – would love to try

  • David Hulett

    What does the brine soak do? Is it essential?

    • Nathalie Ammann

      Yes, it’s essential. We use the brine soak instead of using the caustic soda that most recipes ask for. This step ensures that the figs are tender yet crisp when preserving.

  • Christiaan

    thanks for the advice.. please could you also mail me the recipe. i have been looking everywhere for a nice green fig recipe. thanks!

    • nathalie

      Hi All

      Here is the recipe

      Fig Preserve Recipe:

      500g Salt
      100 figs
      Juice of two lemons
      1 stick dried ginger
      Rozendal Fynbos Vinegar

      Dissolve Salt in enough water to cover figs in a bucket
      Soak figs overnight in the bucket of salt water

      Next morning –

      Rinse figs and cut an X in the bottoms of each fig

      boil figs approximately 15min. in enough water to cover (they should boil till you can push the back end of a match through the skin)

      Using water from the boiled figs: mix equal parts water and sugar (approximately 7cup water and 7 cups white sugar)

      Dissolve sugar completely in the water before bringing to a boil. Boil for 20 min – then add figs, lemon juice a dash of Rozendal Fynbos Vinegar and ginger boil approx. 2hrs (until syrup thickens).

      Its a good idea to make extra syrup to top up the cooking figs and for jarring time.

      Leave cooked figs to soak overnight.

      In the morning – boil figs up again just to heat for jarring

      Jar immediately in sterilized jars!

      You’re done. They are usually best when left to mature a few weeks.

      • Lorraine Tobias

        Hi Natalie
        You mention 100 figs… Does the size not matter, in regard to the amounts of sugar, water etc?
        I’m getting 4kg of figs which does not ripen, and looking forward to preserving them. I’d hate to be wasting it and other ingredients if not sure…
        Please advise.

        Many thanks

        • nathalie

          Hi Lorraine

          Generally, the first figs of the season are small, like the ones you buy preserved. So 100 small figs, I hope that is helpful.

  • Christiaan

    Nathalie, please could you email me the recipe as well. Thanks alot

  • Tamby

    Thanks for the informative and useful post! We have a fig tree in our garden that’s full of green figs, could you email me the full recipe? Thanks!

  • Ashley

    Please can you email the recipe quantities…figs are soaking in brine already & i would apreciate the quantities of lemon/syrup/ginger.
    Many thanks!

  • karin

    Please could you send me the recipe too..thanx

  • Karin Norman

    Sounds wonderful please could we have the recipe, not too sure of quantities. We need to pick before the birds eat the lot! Thank you

    • Nathalie Ammann

      Sure- will send you the recipe.

  • Jen

    Can you send me the recipe for this please?

    • Nathalie Ammann

      Sure- will send you the recipe 🙂

  • Cathy Green

    I would love to try your recipe. Sounds great. Picking figs off my tree for the first time

    Many thanks


    • Nathalie Ammann

      Sure- will send you the recipe 🙂

  • Jane Hahn

    Please may I have your recipe too. Seems I have the same questions as others, re the brine & quantities.
    Birds & bees are eating the lot faster than I can pick !!

    thank you

    • Nathalie Ammann

      Sure- will send you the recipe 🙂

  • Dianne

    Have plenty of green figs, but never usually get ripe ones because the birds beat us to them, so it would be really great if we had a recipe for green figs, if you could send it to me please.

    • Nathalie Ammann

      Sure- will send you the recipe 🙂

  • Gillian

    I would like the recipe please…not sure of brine or syrup. Sounds great.

    • Nathalie Ammann

      Sure- will send you the recipe 🙂

      • Frances Charles

        Recipe please..Have about 200 small green figs on two trees in Overberg area, Western Cape..2nd batch..are they sweeter than November’s picking?

        • nathalie

          Hi Frances

          That’s wonderful!

          Remember this recipe is for the first green figs as these don’t ripen.

          I will e-mail you the recipe 😉

  • Norma

    Could You also send me the recipe.? Needing to do something with the last of the crop. I don’t want to make jam, prefer the whole fruit. Many thanks and kind regards

  • Maureen

    They look yummy – could you please send me the recipe? Never tried this before and hate to see them wasting. These are main crop and because we are right into autumn here they will not ripen before winter frosts set in. Thanks

  • Mike

    Please send me the recipe. The last crop of figs is not going to get ripe so I would like to try and preserve them. Thanks.

  • John

    Hi, what cultivar figs are used for green fig preserve? A copy of the recipe would be greatly appreciated.

  • Trish

    Quantities of salt and sugar please

  • Joan

    I’m in France and figs are just coming out. I love green fig preserve but have never been able to get my hands on green figs in South Africa. Would appreciate receiving the recipe as well

  • Marlene Vermeulen

    Hi, please could I have your recipe as well. Will be picking my first batch of green figs in about a weeks time. With regard to the birds, I have found that hanging old CD’s in my tree keeps the birds away. (They go the neighbour’s tree). the CD’s must swing in the wind to be effective.

    • nathalie

      Hi Marlene

      Fabulous tip regarding the old cd’s (if you still have them ;-)), the light reflections seem to scare them off.
      I will send you the recipe.

  • Nigel Juckes

    Could I please have the recipe

    • nathalie

      Of course, will send 🙂

  • Louis Deklerk

    could you please send me your recipe

    • nathalie

      Yes, will do 🙂

  • Menanteau van der Walt

    Would love the recipe please

    • nathalie


    • Anzette Borcherds

      Hi Nathalie
      I used to pick the figs for the green fig preserve around the 25 th of October for many years. Last year, my preserves were a total mess… figs fell in( flat) and were wrinkled. Was it to late? With the changing weather patterns in mind, how do I determine when they are ready? We live in the Western Cape. What should I look out for when picking them?

      • nathalie

        Hi Anzette

        Generally, the figs are still small and hard. I’m honestly not an expert, we only make small batches on the farm when we get a chance. I haven’t made for a few years now…

  • Neels Engelbrecht

    Please can you send me the recipe as I am not sure of the brine and syrup.
    Thank you.

    • nathalie

      Will do 🙂


    Hi, I’m in England so obviously my figs dont ripen. Could you please send me the recipe as not sure of quantities. Thanks. Jo

    • nathalie

      Hi Jo

      Will gladly send through, hope you have luck with this recipe.

  • Michael Lehr

    Please send recipe. Thanks

    • nathalie

      Yes, will do 🙂

  • Ann Damico

    I am just now catching this line of discussion. I would also love the recipe. I live on the edge of a zone for figs but my trees have produced well this year. Have a few green this fall but will also use the recipe for the spring. Thank you!

    • nathalie

      Of course, will gladly send to you 🙂

  • Linsey Hendricken

    I’m an ex-Zimbabwean now living in the USA and remember eating my Grandmother’s preserved figs as a delicacy. I never got the recipe so would be most grateful if you could e-mail me your recipe. Thanking you in advance.

    • nathalie

      Hi Linsey

      What a sweet memory!

      Will gladly send you the recipe 🙂

  • Jossie du Plooy

    Can you please send me the recipe.

    • nathalie

      Of course, will do 🙂

  • Angelique Lingenfelder

    Please could you send me the recipe with amounts? We are in Pretoria

    • nathalie

      Of course, will do 🙂

  • Paul Howland

    I have been in my current house now for seven years and each year the fig almost ripen then turn black.
    This year they are big green softish and plump, looking great, unfortunately I am going away for two weeks, I would also like your recipe.
    Thank you so much if, even if you can’t, I understand,

    REgards Paul Australia.

    • nathalie

      Hi Paul

      My apologies for the late reply, but I have been on maternity leave.

      I will gladly send you the recipe, but this recipe is really for the first green figs that appear on the tree. You pick them when they are small, green and hard.

  • Charleen Galway-Bennett

    Good Morning Nathalie, with a plethora of Green Figs with no taste for ripe ones, please send me your recipe. Also at what stage do i pick the figs – have never done this before but it seems a pity to let the figs go to waste. Thank you in advance

    • nathalie

      Hi Charleen

      This recipe is for the first batch of figs that appear on the tree which never ripen, but would naturally just fall off the tree. They’re small and hard when you pick them. I will send you the recipe 🙂

  • Margaret Dreyer

    I have been planning to make green fig preserve for ages and searched in vain for a ‘modern’ one – the use of slaked lime is fine but ‘caustic soda’ sounds a bit drastic! I would be so grateful if you would send me your recipe specifying the quantities of ingredients used.

    • nathalie

      Dear Margaret
      Of course, I will gladly send you our recipe 🙂

  • Annabelle

    Silly question…do you peel the figs?

    • nathalie

      Never a silly question. Nope as these are the hard green figs we do not peel them.

  • Simon

    This is great. Please can you email me the recipe? Also, I have never had a fig before, what part of it do you use? Do you take the skin/pith off and scoop the insides out? thanks

    • nathalie

      Hi Simon

      I have sent you the recipe. You use the whole of the unripe green fig as is.


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