The bergamot is a small, squat citrus fruit that’s rounder and smaller than a standard lemon and is cultivated in the sunny southern Med, originating from the province of Calabria, the 'toe' of the Italian peninsula. In season late winter, this hybrid bitter orange is mainly grown for its fragrant essential oil that’s extracted from its rind and used in the perfume industry but is also the key ingredient for Earl Grey tea and candied peel. Bergamot zest is floral-bitter and its flesh is too highly perfumed to be useful in the kitchen without combing with an alternative citrus to balance the flowery notes. Teamed with lemon, orange or grapefruit, this high pectin fruit makes tasty marmalade and provides summery nuances to cakes and pâtisserie, marinades, vinaigrette and flavoured oil. Team with grilled fish, light white or rich, slow roasted meats; perhaps add a sprinkle of zest to breadcrumbs when preparing escalope’s or the whole fruit in the cavity of a roasting chicken but in a similar fashion to tarragon, a little is delicious but too much is hideously overpowering.


A rare-to-find citrus fruit and well worth buying a couple; if nothing else, add a scraping of zest to green tea leaves for the most fragrant, delicious break in the day.