Fact: three years ago I had no idea what Fernet Branca was apart from being an ingredient listed in a new cocktail book I bought and what a bunch of bartender twitter feeds told me they were drinking a shot of. When struck by an ingredient I’d never heard of, but keep seeing, I do the only logical thing I can think of; I go buy it. I was prepared in a small way for what to expect when trying this Amaro for the first time. Biting, minty, medicinal, sweet….confused. And after my first sip, the only remark I could say was, “I like it. What’s all the fuss?”
I’ve now found myself in a chatty group of cocktail bloggers who all view Fernet Branca as a tasty shot of awesome. Right guys? And two weeks ago, in a long-winded, nonsensical twitter ramble (isn’t that how a lot of these things happen?) among us, urged on by the Fernet Branca twitter feed, I found I had agreed to making Fernet Branca jelly. Jelly, like, for toast.
Jelly with an ounce of booze I’ve heard of, but making a jelly whose star ingredient was the booze? Research was in order. A friend of mine who cans on a semi-regular basis suggested I go look up Wine Jelly. So, jelly made with alcohol was a thing. I found a pretty standard recipe and cut it in half. If this didn’t work out, I wasn’t about to waste an entire bottle of Fernet Branca. I bought a second bottle though as a just in case.
Here are a couple things you need to know about this recipe before trying it.
- I am not a home canner. I made a small batch and it filled about 3 of the small 8 ounce mason jars. With the taste testing I’ve gone through them already (less then a week). Since they did not go through a hot water bath to bring to temp to kill off bacteria, I cannot guarantee how long yours will last. However, if you don’t consume all of it within a few days. Keep sealed in the fridge and eat within a month. If you DO can. Congratulations. Hot water process and keep them in your pantry until you want to use them.
- I was happy, really happy, after the first pass at this. However, the texture did include some sugar crystals that did not render the jelly smooth as silk. However, one of the aspects of this site is to get YOUR feedback. If you make this and you have some pointers on how to improve up on this, add them to the comments section below. I’d love to hear about your experience.
- The recipe comes together quickly. So have everything ready once you begin, because you will NOT be able to leave the stove.
- This is not a super sweet jelly. I wanted the flavor of the Fernet Branca to be the star. That’s the whole point of this experiment. That said, there IS sugar added to this recipe, otherwise you couldn’t make a jelly. You could always reduce the Fernet over a low heat to make a reduction/syrup. That would also be tasty, but not a jelly.
- This is a quick cook, and the alcohol is not killed off. There is A LOT that remains. Did I get drunk off of eating this? No, but you can taste the alcohol, so be warned.
OK, with those points covered, let’s start the fun.
1-3/4 cup of Fernet Branca
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 oz. Pure Apple Pectin
2 cups granulated sugar
Combine first three ingredients over medium-high heat in a medium sized non-reactive sauce pan (stainless steel is good). Stir constantly until the ingredients start to boil, scraping down the sides all the time you are stirring. Add sugar carefully to the mixture, stir to combine, and keep stirring while bringing back the entire mixture to a rolling boil. Once boil is reached, boil rapidly for two minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and carefully pour into 3 8-oz. sized mason jars, or one large jar with a tight fitting lid*. Cover and let cool. Once cool, store in refrigerator. See notes above about storage.
And the result? It’s SO Fernet Branca, except slightly sweetened and spreadable. Cooking it does not reduce it’s pungent flavor, as it still has that wonderful minty and bitter flavor. How did I enjoy it? With a generous dab of Plugra butter on a biscuit. Perfect morning fuel. It was also consumed by the spoonful.
Are you game to try this? I’d love to hear about it if you do.