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18 years ago we made a life changing decision and relocated to this glorious island of Mallorca. We bought a 15,000 square metre plot of land in the heart of the glorious countryside and built a traditional, Mallorcan style house. It was outstanding, complete with designer swimming pool, interior stone walls, beams, sweeping terraces, etc. etc. We were living the ‘Mallorcan Dream’ and experiencing everything we imagined our island home to be.

We also inherited an extensive orchard of fruit and fig trees. When the fresh figs were temptinglyhanging plump and ripe from the trees, we asked ourselves in earnest: “What on Earth do we do with them all?” We had lorry loads! And a ripe fig has a very short shelf life!

OK! So the first thing we did was try to eat as many as we possibly could, which by the very nature of their quantity didn’t make much of a dent to the harvest. Now, I like figs. Other Half loves figs. But there are only so many you can eat in one sitting before you actually find yourself sitting somewhere else entirely, with more regularity than you might have planned!

We tried to be inventive and used figs in all kinds of interesting ways. After all, fresh figs don’t come cheap, and in the UK are considered a rare luxury. Fresh figs at our fingertips, dropped from a tree into the palm of our open hands. How special was that? We made open tarts, jam, pickles, cakes, compotes, you name it we tried it. Naturally, we also gave sackfuls away, but still had figs coming outof our ears!

We even tried the traditional method of drying and preserving the figs, yet after an epic fail, abandoned that idea and left such a specific delicacy to the professionals - those Mallorcan experts who know ‘exactly’ what they are doing after gleaning decades of experience!

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The technique of drying figs begins with picking the very best of the crop, before laying them beneath the sun’s rays on special wooden racks. Friendly neighbours presented us with hand-made traditional racks, fashioned organically from twigs and branches. The figs have to be cared for and taken in each night to avoid the falling dew, then laid out again in the morning. It’s a tiresome affair but necessary in the process that turns fresh figs into a delectable dry-fest. A fig for all seasons!

Each day the figs must be turned and ‘pressed’ to flatten them. Ours tended to keep popping up again, but we were told that was completely normal. Just keep pressing. Flattening! And keep drying until all the moisture has miraculously disappeared, which can be anything between seven to ten days, or more. It’s a seriously long process!

The completely mummified figs are then blanched in boiling water for thirty seconds to kill any bugs. Then surprise, surprise, they had to be dried out all over again in a very low oven. Finally, the picked, plucked, dried, soaked, drained, strained, oven baked figs are ready to be stored between layers of fresh fig leaves, sprinkled with anise liqueur and spiked with the chopped stems of ‘fenoll’ ( a wild, free growing anise plant ).

We bottled ours in jars ready for Christmas or any time soonest. These figs seriously last for ages. And prepared correctly, are gastronomically gorgeous! Our attempt, in retrospect, was executed with zero knowledge to the ‘precise’ quantity of alcohol needed! Anise liqueur is 40% proof. No-one told me you only need a sparse sprinkling between the fruit to flavour the figs and keep them ‘preserved’. We bottled our figs in jars which absorbed all the alcohol very quickly. I kept adding more and more until the figs were plump again and fit to burst.

Subsequently, one of my ‘not so dried’ figs could knock out a horse. We used to lay my special figs out on to a plate for at least two hours before we wanted to eat them in order for the alcohol to evaporate! They were interesting and very intense, but nevertheless super nice if you could hold your drink! And brilliant served with local cheese. We preferred them with ice cream which kind of masked the anise - a refreshing yet tipsy combination.

All the figs in the orchard we couldn’t eat, use or give away sadly dropped to the ground and literally fermented at the foot of the trees. The aroma was amazing. When we wandered down through the orchard, the air smelled of brandy! Birds flew upside down! These days we don’t have any fig trees to play with, but each year the memories of those days still come flooding back. Delish!