Cape Malay Preserved Green Figs in syrup (Vye Konfyt)

Cape Malay Preserved Green Figs in syrup

Preserved Green Figs in syrup or Boom Vye Konfyt (literal translation is Tree Fig Preserves) is a delicious Cape Malay sweetmeat for festive occasions. It is often served as part of a High Tea reception at weddings, and in recent years at Eid and occasionally Sunday afternoon tea.

The whole preserved green figs in syrup and other fruit preserves are usually served in slices or chunks in a footed bowl or decorative plate. Cocktail sticks are served on the side to enable guests to eat the preserves without getting sticky syrup on their hands and clothes.

Konfyt are chunks of whole fresh or dried fruits that are soaked overnight in salted or lime water to make it crisp and remove excess liquid, then slow cooked in sugar syrup.

Cape Malay Preserved Green Figs in syrup on cheeseboard

My first memory of seeing an array of konfyt was at a cousin’s wedding when I was about 5 or 6 years old. My aunt Fatima had made Dried Apricot spoon sweets (Appelkoos konfyt), Syrupy Dried Sour Figs Konfyt recipe (Suurvye konfyt) and Preserved Watermelon (Waatlemoen konfyt) for the wedding. She proudly showed me the fruit of her labors in row upon row of small glass bowls and I was too happy to try them all. A few years later I discovered Green figs in syrup (Vye konfyt) and was smitten.

For years I took back a few jars of store bought Preserved Green Figs in syrup back to Dubai with me as it was not available there. The fig preserves are sweet and a great accompaniment to cheeses like brie, buratta or mozzarella and slices of toasted sour dough bread. My favorite way to eat these preserved green figs is on freshly baked buttered bread or with blue cheese and crackers.

This recipe takes some time to make at home, but unless it is an emergency I will never buy it from the store again.

How to eat Preserved Green Figs in syrup

  • Green Fig Preserves are first and foremost served with afternoon tea as a spoon sweet in Cape Malay homes or at wedding feasts.
  • They are also excellent as part of a cheese board with a variety of cheeses, crackers or bread and fresh cherries or grapes. I like a piquant Gorgonzola or Roquefort or a spice infused goat or cream cheese log.
  • The Green Fig Preserves are a sweet delight served sliced over greek yogurt with a sprinkling of this Easy Homemade Granola or this Toasted Luxury Berry Nut Muesli.
  • The Green Fig Preserves also make a great substitute for roasted figs in this Caramelised Onion, Fig and Brie tart when fresh figs are not in season.

Cape Malay Preserved Green Figs in syrup with bread and cheese

How to make Preserved Green Figs in syrup

  • For Preserved Green Figs in syrup, the best figs are the first crop in Spring (October in the Southern Hemisphere). However, it is a myth that later crops will turn out bitter and inedible. As long as the figs are hard, green and unripe they can be used for konfyt as I have used first crop figs in the past and December crop figs recently.
  • The figs are soaked overnight in salt and this seems to loosen the waxy latex layer sometimes found on the fruit when the tree sap has leaked. The lengthy soaking make the figs moist and is essential to prevent them turning out like old shoe leather.
  • The fruit is first boiled in a mixture of salt and bicarbonate of soda, before the second slow cooking in sugar syrup over a low heat for a few hours until it is translucent and tender without breaking apart.
  • If the syrup crystallizes while it’s cooking it will render hard inedible figs that you may even be unable to remove from the sugar crystals.

Cape Malay Preserved Green Figs in syrup

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Cape Malay Preserved Green Figs in syrup

Cape Malay Preserved Green Figs in syrup (Boom Vye Konfyt)

Razena Schroeder
Cape Malay Preserved Green Figs in syrup are so versatile and can be eaten as a sweet at afternoon tea, as part of a cheese platter or used in place of roasted figs with breakfast and appetizers.
5 from 5 votes
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours 45 minutes
Soaking time 8 hours
Total Time 4 hours 15 minutes
Course Jams and Preserves
Cuisine Cape Malay
Servings 36
Calories 228 kcal


Preparing the figs

  • 2 litres water approximately 4 cups
  • 38 grams salt approximately 30 ml or 2 tablespoons
  • 1.125 kg unripe green figs

Boiling the figs

  • 3 litres water approximately 6 cups
  • 5 ml bicarbonate of soda approximately 1 teaspoon
  • 28.5 grams salt approximately 22.5 ml or 1.5 tablespoons

Sugar syrup

  • 1.2 kg fine granulated sugar approximately 1500 ml or 6 cups
  • 500 ml water approximately 2 cups
  • 30 ml lemon juice approximately 2 tablespoons


Preparing the figs

  • Scrape the unripe figs and cut any brown tips off the stalks. 
  • Use a sharp knife to make crosswise slits at the stalk end of the fig. Alternately you may make the crosswise slit at the bottom end of each fig.
  • Prick the figs and place in a deep bowl with 2 liters of water and the 38 grams salt. Move the figs around to distribute the salt in the water. 
  • Let the figs soak for a minimum of 9 hours or overnight.
  • After the soaking time has elapsed you will notice that some of the figs may have a sticky oily residue. Brush this off with a new soft scouring sponge.

Boiling the figs

  • Rinse the figs and place into a deep pot with at least 4 liters capacity.
  • Add the 5 ml bicarbonate of soda and 28.5 grams salt and mix into the water to distribute it evenly.
  • Bring the pot to the boil on medium high and boil for 30 minutes or until soft. Skim off any scum that rises to the surface. 
  • When the figs are soft, pour off the water and put the figs back into a clean pot.

Preserving in sugar syrup

  • Add the sugar and 200 ml of the water to the figs and return to the heat on the lowest setting.
  • Stir occasionally and wipe down the sides with a clean spatula or silicone brush to ensure that the sugar does not crystallize on the sides of the pot.
  • The sugar will dissolve slowly and it requires a stir every 15 minutes to ensure even cooking. 
  • After the first hour you may add 100 ml of water, pouring it down the sides of the pot.
  • Continue stirring every 20 minutes without breaking the figs.
  • After the second hour you can add the other 100 ml water and the lemon juice.
  • By now you will see that the figs are becoming darker and more translucent and the syrup will start to thicken. 
  • After the third hour add the last 100 ml of water and cook for a further 15 minutes or until the figs are completely translucent.
  • Remove from the heat and allow to cool for a few minutes before decanting into sterilized preserving jars. 


For figs with a hint of warming spice add the following to the sugar and water (step 1 of preserving in sugar syrup):
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 cm of root ginger sliced into rounds
  • 2 sticks cinnamon
Green figs release a very pungent sap that may cause skin irritation, but is actually very good for removing warts. Wear gloves, especially if you have a latex allergy. 


Calories: 228kcalCarbohydrates: 59gProtein: 0gFat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1132mgPotassium: 108mgFiber: 1gSugar: 57gVitamin A: 65IUVitamin C: 1.4mgCalcium: 18mgIron: 0.2mg

Disclaimer: Nutritional information for the recipe is an approximation and varies according to the ingredients and products used.

Keyword preservative free, preserving, slow cooking
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  • Reply
    November 28, 2023 at 12:35 pm

    Hi Razena, the note at the end regarding the cloves, ginger and cinnamon. At what point in the recipe should these be added?
    Many thanks!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      December 4, 2023 at 11:46 am

      Hi Ben. i’ve updated the note. The warming spices can be added in step 1 of preserving in sugar syrup.

  • Reply
    Judy Maciejowska
    August 14, 2023 at 3:14 pm

    Hi Razena, some recipes say to peel the figs first. Should I do that with your recipe? I’d prefer not to!

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      August 15, 2023 at 11:12 am

      Hi Judy

      Do not peel the figs for this recipe. The recipe uses unripe green figs and instructions specify how to prepare the figs before cooking. The figs will boil in the sugar syrup for a long time and may disintegrate if peeled.

  • Reply
    August 10, 2023 at 5:59 pm

    Thank you for sharing – these are completely wonderful.

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      August 12, 2023 at 1:03 pm

      You are most welcome!

    • Reply
      Judy Maciejowska
      August 17, 2023 at 10:23 pm

      Thank you so much for this recipe. I live in England where most of my figs don’t ripen, and wasps eat the best ones before I do! I’ve hunted for a green fig konfyt recipe for years, and your’s is perfect.

      One more question: I’ve bottled them in kilner jars – the ones with a rubber seal and clip on lids. How long will the konfyt last unopened in the cupboard, or should I refiverrate them?

      Many thanks, Judy

      • Reply
        Razena Schroeder
        August 18, 2023 at 11:43 pm

        If the kilner jars were sterilised they should last at least 3 months unopened in the cupboard. I have recently bottled jams and chutneys in Kilner jars with screw on lids and put it back into the oven for 20 minutes at 100 degrees Celcius, after bottling. The contents seem to last longer that way but I always refrigerate after opening.

  • Reply
    February 12, 2023 at 7:05 pm

    I am busy at the moment making this delicious looking fig preserve. I notice that there is lemon juice as an ingredient in the sugar syrup. When does one add the lemon juice?

    • Reply
      Razena Schroeder
      February 12, 2023 at 7:15 pm

      Hi Monique. Good question! I have updated the recipe to indicate that you can add the lemon juice after the second hour.
      It acts as a natural preservative and brings the ph down, helping to prevent the growth of bacteria.

    5 from 5 votes (4 ratings without comment)

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