The Zeitgeist


I had this week's post all planned in advance. I was going to tell you how I once had a brilliant, spontaneous idea for an odd but wonderful flavor combination: blood orange and rosemary marmalade. You see, a year or two ago I was making a rather large batch of blood orange marmalade to give away in Christmas baskets and, while bottling the last of a dozen jars, randomly wondered what it might taste like flavored with rosemary. Luckily I had some growing on my balcony and stirred a sprig into one jar of the hot marmalade. As the combination it's not one I've ever heard of, I was not entirely sure it would work out.

It works swimmingly. Rosemary is somehow best friends with the savory-sweetness of blood oranges. Each flavor is distinct and balanced and crisp. While this marmalade is good on wholemeal toast, it is absolutely amazing on a thick slice of buttery brioche. This flavor combination, my flavor combination, was an absolute triumph.

Bleed for me.

As you can see, I was well prepared to sing my own praises. Then, a moment of curiosity compelled me to google “blood orange and rosemary marmalade.” As I'm sure you have guessed, I am not the first person on earth to combine the two. Far from it, actually. In fact, some small jam makers in the States are manufacturing and selling the stuff. Damn, not so brilliant after all.

I take solace in the fact that I did invent blood orange and rosemary marmalade, for myself anyway: as in, I didn't copy the idea from anyone. The episode compels me to believe in the "zeitgeist" concept: concurrent, spontaneous, independent ideas. It happens often in cooking, I find. Restaurants all over Sydney will begin using an ingredient or combining flavors in similar ways that cannot be completely explained away by seasonality or menu copying. For example, a few years ago, every restaurant in the city, it seemed, began serving braised pork cheeks with seared scallops. Some put the cheeks in ravioli, or terrenes, or in crepinette, but that one cut of meat alongside seared Queensland scallops was popping up everywhere. It's as if these ideas are simply in the air.

Still, for the record, not only did somebody steal my good idea, they beat me to it. Rude.

Blood Orange and Rosemary Marmalade

This marmalade is quite bitter, and, in addition to spreading on toast, would make a fine addition to cakes or a glaze for meat.

The lemon and the pips add extra pectin, so that your marmalade will set with less cooking. With all marmalades, the trick to retaining a fresh citrus flavor is a short stove-time.

1k blood oranges, washed
2 lemons, washed
pinch of salt
6 sprigs rosemary

Slice the oranges and lemons into thin rings, removing and reserving any pips. Place the sliced fruit and any juices you can collect into a stainless steel pot. Tie the pips into a muslin bag and add them to the pot. Add just enough water to cover the fruit. Bring to a boil and cook until the skins are soft – 20-30 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit at room temperature, covered, for 12-24 hours.

Weigh the cooked fruit and water and add to it ¾ of it's weight in sugar (if you have one kilo of cooked fruit, add 750 grams of sugar). Add the pinch of salt and bring to a boil, cooking until it reaches setting point – about 104ยบ C. To test, drop a bit of marmalade onto a cold plate and then place it in the fridge for a few moments. Push the drop with your finger; if it is thick and a wrinkly skin forms, it is ready.

Just before pouring the marmalade into sterilized jars, stir in the picked leaves of two sprigs of rosemary. Once the marmalade is in the jars, shove a full sprig of marmalade into each. Seal.

Let's cover brioche making sometime very soon. Say, next week.


Dancing Hula in the Sunset said...

Oh my gosh that sounds really freaking delicious. I'll have to make it and eat it.

Jovan Gonzales said...

Well, it seems my grama is also one to beat you to the punch! :P She makes this quite often and it's amazing. Of course, I don't have to tell you that since you've already made it for yourself! Isn't it always delightful when you happen upon something that doesn't seem to go, but then it magically does? Ahhhhhh. The joys of cooking!

louisebah said...

Bravo! :) Just one thing about the fourth last sentence, you meant rosemary sprig right?

I love experimenting with ingredients too.

Kit Kemper said...

Funny. Last year I made a Blood Orange Rosemary sorbet for a Holiday party. I kind of though the rosemary gave it a bit of a chemically taste, but my guests loved it. It mellowed really well, and I came around to liking it. Like you, it was pretty much a spontaneous combination for me.

Jerad said...

Damn. Rosemary sprig. Not "marmalade sprig." Somebody get me an editor, stat.

River-Rose said...

This is delish! The photos are pretty, too!

Amelia PS said...

fascinating...must be a burst of flavors.
i made margaritas with the blood oranges I bought:

Heiko said...

You've made my Christmas! Next week our Sicilian orange man, who opens his shop only during the orange season from November to May, will start selling his most delicious, untreated blood oranges at give away prices. I shall buy a large bag and that's part of the Christmas hamper sorted for all our lovely neighbours!

Erin said...

i love it, this looks simply delicious!!! i'm sure they have blood oranges in switzerland, but i'll have to check. and then can! :)

Jerad said...

Erin- blood oranges are generally in season mid to end winter. Look for them then.

Kit Kimper- I find that rosemary has a soapy or chemically taste when used in any great quantity; try using a bit less next time and see what you think.

Amelia- I want a blood orange margarita for breakfast.

Evan said...

Your pictures are always so amazing, and your writing is very intelligent. You should write a book. I would read it :)

Charon said...

I don't think we get blood oranges where I am... and even if the local supermarket sold them, they would be too valuble to make into marmalade.
I wonder what would happen if you just mixed rosemary into normal marmalade...which is funny since I hate the taste of marmalade, but then I could always use my dad as a test subject...he eats most things...

Hurra Bier! said...

another gorgeous post! i really look forward to reading these.

djlosangeles said...

I know exactly what you mean by spontaneous combinations. (I live in Japan) and I found a lovely bit of bonito at the supermarket, and thought how wonderful it might be combined with ponzu sauce after being grilled. Turns out that's exactly how it's normally served here, I found out after about 6 months. Just today I served a staff meal at the restaurant that I made up and apparently bears a striking similarity to a Chinese stir-fry popular here. So much for tooting my own originality.

Anonymous said...


Janet English said...

Just told my friends last night that I want to make some bourbon cranberry sauce as holiday gifts- what a great idea you have.

Islandbaby said...

Loving the blog. I peek in every now and again. What does a blogger have to do to get on your Christmas list? I would adore a lovely basket of preserves, lol.

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