Unripe green figs at this time of year can seem like a wasted opportunity, but here’s a way to transform waste into delicious pantry preserves. Originally a recipe from Greece, our family loves figs and really enjoys this treat. These figs are equally delicious served as a savoury with prosciutto or on a cheese platter, or as a dessert with a sharp Greek yoghurt, some tangy gelato or a drizzle of cream.

They keep for a long time in the fridge and make great gifts.

Unripe green fig in background


Choose figs that are about half the size of a mature fruit for that variety, see photo above


  • 2 lbs / 0.91 kg unripe baby figs
  • 3 lbs / 1.36 kg brown sugar
  • Water as needed + 3 cups water for syrup
  • 1 tablespoon of lemon juice
  • 10-12 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla essence
  • Sprinkle of ground cinnamon
Green fig preserved in spiced sugar syrup



  • Rinse figs & poke a hole in the bottom of each fruit with a Phillips screwdriver ~6mm, similar in size to a pen, remove any stems from fruit.
  • Soak figs in water for a few hours
  • Drain and refresh water then boil for 1 minute
  • Drain and put into cold water to cool and then drain again
  • Boil for another 15 mins in fresh water
  • Drain and refresh water then boil for 1 minute
  • Put into cold water to cool, then drain


  • Boil the sugar in 3 cups of water for 5 minutes
  • Add figs to syrup and boil for 15 mins
  • Turn off and leave in syrup for 12 hours
  • Remove figs and boil only the syrup until thick enough to coat the back of a spoon, at least as thick as maple syrup, thicker is better.
  • Replace figs into syrup and add lemon juice, cloves, vanilla and cinnamon.
  • Boil all together for 5 minutes.
  • Pour into clean sterilized jars & store. Recommended jar size is 250-300ml.
Green figs in syrup