Sun-dried Glace Figs

This recipe is one that has been handed down over the generations. Sun- dried figs always remind me of warm Autumn days and the busyness of vintage. I’ve listed all the ingredients for this recipe as per my grandmother’s original recipe, which uses old measurements. 

Chris Thomson grandmothers recipe card


‘Were these grown here?’
“Yes, four fig trees were planted not long after the first vines but because of the dry weather recently we only have two left.”
“We don’t know for sure, but they were probably planted as a companion planting about 150 years ago by Henry. Small birds such as silvereyes would much rather have a fig than a grape any day. Particularly these ones- they’re a tiny white variety that taste like nectar, especially if you eat them straight from the tree on a warm Autumn day.

Hamish Thomson remembers tables laid out in the sun with the sticky gooey figs drying, visited by bees and ants, before his mother Chris carefully stacked them in jars.

Sun-dried Glace Figs


12lb fresh figs, whole, de-stemmed and wiped but left whole
12lb white sugar
juice of 4 lemons
¼ lb green ginger, sliced
6 pints of water.


Bring the sugar and water to the boil in a large saucepan. It is important that all of the sugar is dissolved before it comes to a boil.  Add the lemon and ginger to the syrup. Drop the figs carefully into the syrup. Simmer gently for 90 minutes. Try to keep the figs whole and not split.

Remove the pan from the heat, remove the figs from the pan with a slotted spoon into a ceramic or stainless-steel basin, and pour a little syrup over them. (You can put the remaining syrup back on the stove and continue simmering until its reduced. Store it in the fridge and drizzle over ice cream or fresh fruit or use it to flavour ice cream.)

Leave the figs for three days- four at most- turning them at least once a day.

Take the figs out with a slotted spoon and place on a wire rack. Gently flatten them slightly with the back of a wooden spoon (again, try not to split them) and leave them in the sun to dry for 3-4 days. Do not leave outside at night.

Depending on the weather it may take more than four days. Do not allow them to dry out until hard and dark; they should be pliable.

(Today we have electric dehydrators which are less time consuming but feel sun drying imparts a better flavour and texture.)

Serve your figs on a platter together with a selection of soft and hard cheeses. Store them in an air-tight jar, but keep them in the fridge for a longer life- span.

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