Fig & Earl Grey Jam

This recipe comes to us from Lillie O'Brien, the founder of London Borough of Jam. It was featured in her cookbook Five Seasons of Jam as an ideal recipe for autumn. 

Lillie says: 'This is hands down LBJ’s most popular jam. The fig season varies from year to year and sometimes it can last right up until early winter, which makes for very happy customers. I often wonder what it is about this particular jam that drives people so crazy – could it be the delicate Earl Grey tea that I use, studded with cornflowers, or the savoury textures the fig seeds produce when eaten straight from the jar or with cheese? Either way, I’m now giving away the recipe so I’m hoping to spread the LBJ Fig & Earl Grey Jam love. Try to select the softest and ripest figs you can find; if they are hard it will be a struggle cooking them down, so leave the figs for a few days at room temperature to help them ripen.' 

As with all jam recipes, make sure to sterilise your jars before filling them. Since jars need to be warm when filled, Lillie recommends starting the process while your jam is cooking. See 'BK Tips' for her instructions.

See also: Kumquat & Brandy Marmalade for winter, Cherry & Black Pepper Jam for spring, and Raspberry & Liquorice Jam for summer.

Makes 9 x 220g jars


1.5kg ripe figs (I use Turkish figs)
10g loose Earl Grey tea leaves (with or without cornflowers)
1kg caster sugar
Juice of 1 lemon


  1. Slice the figs in half, place flat-side down on a board and cut into 5mm slices. Put all the fruit in a heavy-based saucepan with the tea leaves and set over low heat for 5 minutes. The aim is to release the tea flavours alongside the natural fig juices.
  2. Slowly add the sugar and lemon juice and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Turn the heat up to high and cook for about 10 minutes, checking every so often that the jam is not sticking, until it reaches setting point, 105ºC on a sugar thermometer or Thermapen. Pour into warm sterilised jars and seal immediately. Store in a cool dark place.

BK Tips

  • This jam will keep for at least 12 months unopened. Make sure that the jars have been properly sterilised and fruit has been cooked to the right temperature – these factors are essential for preservation.

  • Here is Lillie's method for sterilising jars: Pre-heat the oven to 110°C fan, and set a saucepan of water to boil. Wash the jars in warm, soapy water and rinse thoroughly, but do not dry. Set the glass jars (without the clips, rubber seals or lids) on a baking tray, open-side up, and put them in the oven for 30 minutes. Place the clips, rubber seals or lids in the saucepan of boiling water and let it boil for 5 minutes. Then turn off the heat and let it rest in the saucepan until ready to use. When the jars are done sterilising, turn the oven off and let the jars sit in the warm oven until ready to fill. It is best to do this while you cook the jam, as the jars, lids, and clips should be warm when you fill it.

  • If you are using an unlined copper jam pan to make any jam, jelly, or preserve recipe, sugar should be added to the jam pan at the same time as the fruit. (For example, mixing cooked fruit and sugar together before transferring the mixture into a copper jam pan to finish cooking.) This prevents copper from reacting to the acidic components of fruit.
Five Seasons of Jam by Lillie O’Brien is published by Kyle Books. Photography by Elena Heatherwick.