Products of the bergamot
The bergamot, from the Turkish beg-armudi, the lord’s pear tree, is a particular citrus grown only along the Calabrian coast from Villa San Giovanni to Gioiosa Jonica. The Citrus bergàmia (the scientific name of the bergamot) looks like an orange, its rind can vary from green to yellow, depending on how ripe it is. Its skin is thin and smooth; each fruit weighs between 80 and 200 grams. The bergamot comes in three cultivar varieties: the femminello [female] with slender branches and smooth-skinned round fruit; the castagnaro [chestnut-like] whose oval fruit has a more rugged, pitted skin; the fantastico [fantastic] the most widespread variety.
The fruit grows from the zàgara (from the Arabic zahara), that is, its white, scented five-petal flower which begins to bloom at the end of March. The fruit is harvested between October and December; each fruit normally contains between10 to 15 segments, has a very strong aroma and a bitter flavour.
It is a highly valuable and versatile fruit. It is a part of many recipes and added to many food and beverages, from cream of bergamot liqueur to sweets (the famous bergamotes of Nancy, first made in 1857 by a creative confectioner from Lorraine) to tea.
Essential oil of bergamot
Essential oil of bergamot is a product indispensable to a number of industries. In perfume-making it fixed the aromatic bouquet and enhances the other essences by exalting notes of freshness and fragrance; it is an excellent ingredient in sunscreens, although it should never be applied in the undiluted form to the skin during exposure to the sun. It is used in the pharmaceutical industry for its antiseptic and antibacterial properties. Finally, it is also used to flavour foods and beverages: liqueurs, tea, sweets, cakes, ice cream and soft drinks. Since 1999, Reggio Calabria’s Essential Oil of Bergamot of has obtained Denominazione di Origine Protetta (DOP) [Protected Origin] recognition.
Il Bergamot liqueur, often called bergamino, is a typical Calabrian liqueur from the province of Reggio Calabria. It is unique and almost impossible to find. It is obtained by soaking the rind of the bergamot in alcohol for a few days. The infusion is then filtered and mixed with syrup made from water and sugar. It is an excellent after dinner liqueur. It is best drunk chilled so as to appreciate its aroma. It is added to confectionary and ice cream.