Thursday, 26 December 2013

Negroni Jelly: A Bittersweet Christmas Treat

I will blame Jared for asking me to make Negroni Jelly. Not the first time I've concocted a mixed drink jelly. Gimlet Marmalade was a challenge that worked a treat back in 2008. But when Jared asked for 150 jars of Negroni Jelly I had to pull a few test runs. Six to be exact. Here are the lessons I learnt after making five failed batches.

Lesson number one: Do not use a candy thermometer to make Negroni Jelly.

You see, making a jelly from an all-spirits mixed drink isn't the same as making wine jelly or a marmalade. That epiphany came after the first test recipe turned as solid as a fruit pastille. It barely came out of the jar after have an overnight rest.

Lesson number two: Use a high-quailty, natural sugar.

Since there aren't any solids with which the pectin can interact, you are pretty hard pressed to get this stuff to set unless you use a lot of sugar. Fortunately, the bitter character of a Negroni lends itself to sweetening in this scenario. Rather than using plain old white granulated sugar, I opted for Billington's Golden Granulated Sugar.

Lesson number three: Timing is everything.

That old chef's adage is very true in this case. So don't walk away from the hob whilst you're making a batch. It might bubble and caramelise your burners. Messy busy that. Trust me.

All that said, time to give you the recipe. It makes 17 jars of scrummy jelly, using 110 ml jam jars.

300 ml Martini & Rossi Rosso
300 ml Campari or Martini Bitter
300 ml Sipsmith Gin
900 gr Billington's Golden Granulated Sugar
8 tablespoons Certo Liquid Pectin

Combine vermouth, bitter, gin, and pectin in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Return to heat and bring to a rolling boil, stirring to reduce foaming. Cook for 60 seconds.

Pour hot liquid into hot, sterilised jam jars. Process sealed jars in a hot water bath for 5 minutes. The liquid will set overnight, so don't fret if it looks too thin.

Negroni Jelly has some lovely uses as a condiment with:

  • cheese and biscuits
  • cold meats
  • ploughman's lunch
  • your favourite paté or terrine
  • venison, pheasant, duck, basically all game meats
  • toast at breakfast
  • just a spoon for support
  • carp (but then, anything improves carp)
Tell us your adventures with Negroni Jelly. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do.