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The Cape Malay Sour Figs konfyt recipe is a popular syrupy sweet and sour speciality of the Cape Malays, most often served as spoon sweets during celebration and feast days on weddings and Eid.
The first time I tasted sour figs in this deliciously tangy syrup was at one of my cousin’s weddings when I was a child. Tietie, my father’s eldest sister took me into the kitchen at the reception venue where the ladies were preparing the wedding feast. Lined up on every available surface were pretty glass bowls holding all the different konfyts that would be served later.
There was watermelon konfyt, sour figs konfyt (suurvye konfyt), green figs konfyt and apricot and peach konfyt dished into dainty little bowls that were ready to be placed on the banquet tables.
Tietie allowed me to taste them all, and my immediate favorite was the suurvye konfyt. The sweet, slightly salty sour figs in the luscious thick syrup that I wanted to eat by the spoonful has been one of my favorite tea time indulgences since.
Read more: Cape Malay Potato Pudding recipe
The growing season for sour figs is relatively short and it is mostly found during late summer. There are still ladies who make and sell konfyt at neighborhood markets or outside supermarkets on the Cape Flats. I have bought reasonably good watermelon konfyt outside Elite Cash ‘n Carry in Athlone Industria and Good Hope Meat Market at Salt River circle.
I’ve also seen dried sour figs konfyt sold at touristy farmstalls like the one at Constantia Nek, where I bought the dried figs for my own sour figs konfyt. We also found dried sour figs at the Oranjezicht Farmers market at Granger Bay. Be careful though because if it’s too dry and old all you get after soaking and cooking are seeds and hard skins without the luscious sweet and sour oozy syrup.
Even when I don’t find any dried sour figs konfyt during my summer holidays in Cape Town, I can be rest assured my cousin Rufkah will gift me a jar before I leave. Somehow she has memorised a list of my most treasured foods from home and always surprises me with one them, although her Raisin loaf is a staple.
How to make sour figs konfyt in syrup
- Remove all the hard and hairy bits.
- Soak the figs in salted water overnight.
- Remove as much of the outer peel as possible without breaking through the skin of the fig.
- Bring sugar, water and cinnamon sticks to a boil and add the figs.
- Simmer gently for 1-1.5 hours until the figs are soft and the syrup is glossy.
How to eat sour figs konfyt
- Serve as part of a cheese board or charcuterie platter. The sweet tart figs are delicious with sharp cheese.
- Serve in dainty bowls with toothpicks or small coffee spoons to be eaten as a sweetmeat.
Other recipes you may like
- Meat and Cheese platter (Antipasto board)
- Cape Malay Stewed Dried Apricot and Peach compote
- Cape Malay Potato Pudding (Aartappel porring)
- Brioche Bread and Butter pudding (brood porring)
- Traditional South African Milk tart (Melktert)
Syrupy Sour Figs Konfyt recipe (Suurvye konfyt)
- 1 kg sour figs
- 5 liters water
- 100 grams salt
- 1 kg sugar
- 2 cinnamon stick
- 1.5 l water
- Snip off the tops and remove the hairy undersides of the figs without cutting into the figs and exposing the insides.
- Rinse the figs thoroughly to remove any debris and place in a large non-reactive bowl.
- Dissolve the salt in the water and pour over the figs, then cover and leave to soak overnight on the kitchen counter.
- After soaking, pour off the water and gently peel off the outer layer of softened fig skin.
- Bring the sugar, water and cinnamon sticks to a boil in a large pot, then add the figs.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer the figs for 2 hours or until the figs are soft but not mushy, and the syrup is thick enough to cover the back of a spoon.
- Decant into warm, sterilised jars and seal.
Disclaimer: Nutritional information for the recipe is an approximation and varies according to the ingredients and products used.
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