Jams and Preserves – Fig and Pear Paste

I live next door to a church.

It’s not an obvious building, it doesn’t have stained glass windows, or a cemetery or bells but on a Sunday morning it does have a congregation singing and a few cars parked out the front.

For the rest of the week, it sits squat and quiet in a suburban street, with all but the roofline hidden from our view behind a seven foot fence.

And across this fence that separates our back yards, rests a large fig tree. It was my housemate who alerted me to it, and then came the siren-call to action when he announced,  “I don’t like figs.” Still, he didn’t take much persuading to get out a ladder from the garage, climb up and hand me an armful of ripe figs from the overhanging branches.

The next morning, I was wondering what to do with them when I had breakfast with my lovely friend Carly and she came into the café with a bag that she immediately thrust at me. Inside? More figs, this time from her parents’ property.

Now when providence provides, it would be foolish not to preserve them for use throughout the season. This recipe makes an enormous amount, which means you can either halve the quantities or eat it throughout winter. I’m going to share mine with the neighbours.

Amen Sister.

Fig, Pear and Fennel Paste

Makes 3 cups, or enough for 6 to 8 cheese boards.


  • 500g fresh ripe figs
  • 2 ripe pears
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 500g sugar
  • 1 packet Jamsetta™

*Jamsetta is available in the baking aisles of large supermarkets. One packet  will set 1.5kg of fruit. For this recipe, you will need one tablespoon of powder for every 500g of fruit. Alternatively, you can buy jam-setting sugar from CSR which already has jamsetta in it. If so, use 500g in this recipe.


Chop up the figs, skin and all, and place them in a large saucepan. Peel and core the pears, chop them roughly and add them to the figs. Add fennel seeds and ¼ cup (60ml) of water to the fruit.

Heat the fruit over low to medium heat and bring to a simmer. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and leave the fruit to cool for 15 minutes, then puree to a smooth paste with a stick blender.

Transfer the pureed fruit to a bowl and weigh the fruit. You will need to add the same weight of sugar, so take your time to make sure you weigh it properly.

Transfer the pureed fruit back to the saucepan, add the same amount of sugar and  one tablespoon of Jamsetta for each 500g of fruit purée. Stir to combine.

Heat the fruit over a low heat, stirring constantly until the sugar has dissolved. Cook the fruit for a further 2 hours on a very low heat, stirring occasionally so that it doesn’t catch and stick. The fruit will turn a very dark reddish brown and become very thick.

Use a four cup baking tray, or a slice tin. Lightly grease the sides with a tiny bit of olive oil and lay a sheet of baking paper on the bottom of the pan.

Pour the fruit into the prepared tray and smooth the surface with a spatula. Lay another sheet of baking paper over the surface of the paste.If you have another tin that can fit across the top, rest it on the surface of the fruit and weigh it down with a couple of tins. Put the whole lot into the fridge to cool and firm up overnight.

The next day, remove the weights and carefully turn out the paste. Cut into six bars and wrap each bar with a double layer of strong clingwrap. It will keep in a cool dark pantry for up to six months and it makes wonderful gifts.

Serve it with a cheese platter, goat’s cheese, a good camembert or brie, some lavash toasts, dried fruit or a really sharp cheddar or stilton.

25 thoughts on “Jams and Preserves – Fig and Pear Paste”

  1. I really like recipes that are actually ideas. I didn’t know this was an option. We have pears and they need work to be edible. Thus could be the answer. When they crop next I shall try to remember this. Need some figs then.

  2. I don’t like figs much, but I do like fig paste. We have a huge tree next door, and most of it hangs over into our place. Lots of figs given away this year, and lots of fig paste made. I lost count but I think I made 4 or 5 batches.
    Lizard100, if you only have pears, make a straight Pear Paste. It’s delicious too!

    1. This too is my strategy to convince my non-fig liking housemate. Given we’ve eaten an awful lot of cheese since this was made, I think I’ve got him over the line.

  3. We had a litter of puppies once that we couldn’t get to eat, they never seemed hungry and we couldn’t work out why until we discovered them scoffing down all the fallen figs from the fig tree in the backyard. We have one of those puppies, now 10 who still loves figs!

  4. omg I have just found your site today and first recipe I find … Fig and pear paste… Oh me oh my… Love the idea… Love figs now just have to find someone with a fig tree cause at $2.50 each in the supermarket that just isn’t going to happen well it for a poor as a church mouse single mum anyway… Off to explore your site… Thank you so much for sharing some of your recipes.

    1. Hi Latai, My understanding is that figs and especially pears have very low quantities of pectin and therefore don’t set very well on their own. If you can’t find Jamsetta, try adding a whole lemon, cut into quarters, to the fruit puree. You might have to add a little more sugar to offset the sour taste. Remove the lemon quarters – or rather, what remains of them – before you pour it into molds to set. I can’t guarantee it would set as firm as with Jamsetta, but at the very least you’ll get a wonderful jam out of it. Good luck!

  5. This has become my sweet treat while trying to lose weight.
    When I feel that urge for something sweet late at night, I have 4 gluten free crackers with a thin slice of cheese or a litttle Camembert if I have it, and a little fig paste. So delicious and
    I don’t miss any of the other sweet stuff. Oh…and I am losing weight😜

  6. My first batch last night was too stiff. Doing more tonigh and I think will be perfect. I have used less jam setter

  7. I have made this twice now.
    The first time it set far too hard, i thought i had coojed it for too long so the 2nd time I made it, i looked it for lesser time and tested it on a cold plate until i thought it was right byt it was still too solid.
    I reboiled it and add more water but it still seams too stiff.
    I wondered if i should reduce the amount of jam setter? ?
    Can you give me any ideas?
    Thanks Helen

    1. Hello Helen,

      1 tablespoon of Jamsetta is more than enough for this recipe, and since you’ve gone through two batches now, it’s probably best if you reduce the cooking time by 15 minutes the next time you try it. The mixture is stiff because it’s been cooked too long, or possibly at too high a heat – there’s only so much you can do, some stove tops are hotter than others even on the lowest setting possible!

      Bear in mind the paste sets to a very firm jelly. It should hold its shape even at room temperature.

      Let me know how it goes.

      Sandra X

  8. Thanks so much. This is exactly what I was looking for. Most other recipes online don’t mention storage or need to be refrigerated. Now to deal with the abundance of figs!

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