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Makes 2 pints. If canning, assemble all utensils before starting. You will need a water bath canner with a rack and lid or a very deep pot with a rack and lid; the pot must be deep enough to cover the upright jars (sitting on the rack) with 1-2 inches of water and still allow space for brisk boiling once the pan is covered. You will also need two freshly scrubbed pint-size canning jars, metal rings,brand new self-sealing lids and a few clean dish towels. Fill the canner or pot with water and bring to a near boil before beginning to fill the jars with the preserves. Have extra boiling water ready in case you have to add more water to the canner once the jars are in it. In another pot, submerge the clean jars in water and sterilize by boiling as directed y the manufacturer, but for a minimum of 15-20 minutes. Leave the jars in the hot water until ready to fill. Wash and boil lids and rings according to manufacturer's directions. Wash the figs thoroughly in a large pot or bowl of cool tap water, removing any blemishes. Drain well then wash again. Drain well and trim off stems. Combine all ingredients (except lemon) in a 5 1/2 quart stainless steel, unchipped enamel or Pyrex saucepan. Bring to boil over high heat, stirring occasionally. Continue boiling while you skim off all the yellowish foam from the surface of the mixture. This will take about 10 minutes to do because the yellow foam continues to develop. A less dense purple foam-actually just lots of bigger boiling bubbles-may also develop; this is easy to distinguish from the thick yellowish foam and does not require skimming. Reduce heat to med. and cook about 50 minutes, stirring and scraping the pan bottom occasionally (more toward the end of cooking time) so mixture will not scorch. Skim any additional foam as it develops. (NOTE: If mixture gets very thick and you still have additional cooking time, add 2-4 Tbsp more water as needed. If it rained the night before the figs were picked they will be juicier and you probably will not need the extra water). By the end of the cooking time, the mixture should be very thick and most if not all of the figs should be reduced to a puree. Remove from heat. If canning the preserves, stir in the lemon juice or slices. Place the very hot jars on a wooden surface or folded towels and immediately spoon the hot fig mixture into the jars up to 1/2" from the rims, packing the mixture down fairly tightly. (If using lemon slices, be sure to put a slice in each jar). Let jars sit just a few seconds to let the preserves settle and expel the air bubbles. Then promptly wipe the rims well with a clean, damp cloth and place hot lids on top with the sealing compound down; screw on the metal rings firmly but not too tight. Immediately place filled jars upright on the rack in the water-bath canner filled with hot but not boiling water. Arrange the jars so they don't touch each other or the sides of the pot. If necessary add boiling water around but not on jars to cover jar tops by 1-2". Cover pan and bring water to a rolling boil over high heat. Then boil 45 minutes for pints or 50 minutes for quarts. Immediately remove jars with canning tongs and place upright and at least 2" apart on a wooden surface or on a folded towel to cool at room temperature, away from drafts. Do not cover jars. Once are completely cooled, test for an airtight seal by pressing down on the center of each lid. Lid should stay down. Label and date the jars then store upright in a cool, dark and dry room. The preserves are ready to eat immediately. Refirgerate after opening.
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