Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Bergamot Citrus

A Bergamot Orange

Imagine my delight when I recently found bergamot orange at the local market!  :-)  Only a handful were available, and one promptly came home with me.  As you know, the essential oil from this citrus rind is used to scent Earl Grey tea.

I was surprised to learn that it's called an orange, as it looks jut like a lemon.  Read more about the fruit's origins here.  A few sniffs assured me that I had the right thing.  That "Earl Grey" aroma was subtle in the fresh fruit, but certainly there.

The juice, while not quite as sour as a lemon, is puckery and tart.  I found it to be very nice in my morning hot-water-and-lemon routine.  I found the aroma to be most fully present when I grated the peel for lemon zest.  Again, it's more subtle than your tea.  The tea would be scented with a concentrated essential oil, whereas here I'm using the oil in its natural proportions.

I'm not sure if the market has any more bergamot oranges.  If I'm lucky, I will try a batch of bergamot curd.  Oh, wouldn't that be delightful!

Have you ever tried a fresh bergamot orange?


Comfrey Cottages said...

How exciting for you Steph! Thank you for describing the scent and taste:) I have never found any at our stores.. but I will keep looking:) xxx

Colleen said...

No, I've never tried, nor have I seen them in my local markets. But I do know they grow around here because I know someone who makes a marvelous marmalade from bergamots. I'm so impressed with your morning hot water and lemon routine- it sounds cleansing and healthy!

Anonymous said...

Fascinating. I have always wondered what the bergamot citrus fruit looked like. Thank you for your description.

Rosemary said...

What a fun find! I'll have to keep my eye out for a Bergamot orange. Interesting.

Angela McRae said...

Never come across one, but have always wanted to. I've always heard them compared to lemons. And I thought it was just called Bergamot, so I'm happy to learn it is a Bergamot *orange.*

amherstrose said...

Oh you lucky girl! I have been searching every international market I shop in to find one of these! Maybe I can convince you to save me some curd when you make it. I'll make the scones!

Yesterday on a little shopping adventure, I did find 6 sweet limes. They look more like small oranges and are native to India. The juice is quite sweet and mild with a bit of a grapefruit and orange taste. Each sweet lime had over a quarter cup of juice. I plan to freeze the juice and zest for a future recipe.

Thank you for sharing your find with us. I so enjoy hearing about wonderful and surprising food discoveries!

Marilyn Miller said...

How fun to find this special orange. I have never seen one, but now I will be looking. Thanks for the heads up. Sounds yummy!

Linda Jennings said...

This is a great post! Thank you for sharing with your tea friends!!

Allison said...

Wow, how interesting! I had now idea that Earl Gray tea flavor came from a fruit! Cool! Glad you got to try it. :-)

Ms. Ainee C. Beland said...

I came across the history of the Bergamot Citrus in a Mafia book that I was reading up on. Most coincidentally prior to stumbling unto your article.

It notes the origin of the fruit as being from Palermo's Conco d'Oro (1840) which was one of the most prosperous agricultural regions of Europe at the time; yielding superiority over their rich orchards, as opposed to those of surrounding Paris during those early periods of British commercialization and Italy having been founded in 1861, most of its inhabitants, some (10% of the 200,000 population in Palermo) made their living from the land.

It is a strategic ploy for success of the fruits and the water needed to keep the garden fruitful. Those entrepreneurs who controlled the fountain (water) could ask for what price they wanted since the orchard owners needed the water for the fruit to grow.

You have something of value and I have something that can enhance or take away from that value; so how do we come to terms with need and demands and supply...thus entered the mafia in the gardens of Palermo, Italy.

I may not have put in right wording. One can always view the book title: The Mafia, History and Legend by Marco Gasparini.

Nice that you were published in magazine. Kudos!

Shelley said...

i just discovered your blog. It would be so great to find a bergamot orange. Earl Grey tea is one of my favorites, and I would love to smell and taste the fruit that lends it's wonderful flavor and aroma. May I ask what store you found the bergamot orange at? I live in Portland (well, Milwaukie actually) and I'll be on the lookout for them now.

I also will have to try the new tea house in Chinatown SOON that you mentioned in another post.

The Teaist said...

OMG, I think I died and went to heaven... bergamot curd? ;) Wow - that would be amazing.

I've never encountered an actual bergamot fruit. I imagine they must make a fine marmalade as well.

Long live Earl Grey!

Alex Zorach said...

Wow...I'd love to have the opportunity to try one of these.

I love trying new fruit in general, but this one would be even more interesting because of the association with Earl Grey.

Lately I've been eating a lot of blood oranges, which I prefer to call raspberry oranges because they are raspberry-like in color as well as having a fairly noticeable suggestion of raspberry in their aroma. Unlike this one, they do not have a subtle difference--rather, they are quite strongly different from a normal orange.

I also recently tried cara cara oranges; they have the tomato pigment, lycopene, in them. They taste very similar to normal navel oranges, however.