Bergamot: origins, properties and cultivation

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Robert Maurer
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Il bergamot is a citrus fruit that grows tall up to 4 meters and produces fruits similar to oranges but with a green-yellow color and a more acidic and bitter taste.


Its scientific name is Citrus Bergamia and it belongs to the botanical family of the rutaceae. This citrus is native to Turkish lands but it comes commonly cultivated with success also in the South of the country.

Bergamot was also born from the crossing of bitter orange and acid lime for this reason the taste is bitter and its shape is similar to oranges. The ripening of the fruits takes place from November to March while its fragrant white flowers bloom in spring.


 

Where is bergamot grown?

In the lands bordering the Mediterranean, bergamot is born and grows very well with good fruiting. In particular in the region of Calabria, bergamot has great success along and thrives along the entire coastal strip.

In fact, here there is a special microclimate with hot summers with little rain and mild winters that do not drop below 10 degrees. This environment along the coast of Calabria it is typical of tropical areas at humid temperatures and the bergamot crops produce 90% of the world's bergamot production.


 

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How to plant bergamot

Bergamot loves full sun exposure so that the warm rays allow the development of its flowers and fruits. Bright, warmer areas such as south-facing walls are the best places to grow bergamot.

For the ground bergamot prefers a fertile compound rich in humus and well drained with a pH between 6,5 and 7,5. Calcareous or clayey soils are not recommended because its roots would not grow well and even if the plant managed to grow it would hardly give a good production.


In terms of irrigation, bergamot has no particular needs, it needs watering in the first years when the seedlings are still young but once adult they can only require water in particularly dry summers.

Instead, he fears stagnant water which must be avoided with care, under penalty of the risk that the roots rot and the root system get sick, even reaching the death of the plant.

Also in the winter if the temperatures drop below 10 degrees it is good to repair the bergamot, for example by moving it to a greenhouse if it is grown in pots or by covering it with nonwoven fabric if it is grown in the field. 

 

How bergamot is used

Bergamot fruit is used in cooking similar to oranges.

Additionally the peel of the bergamot fruit is used to make herbal teas or to extract its essences of perfumed oils.
Also from the flowers of the bergamot it is possible to extract perfumed essences that are used in cosmetics and phytotherapeutic products for our well-being.


The essential oil obtained is used in aromatherapy for its relaxing and antidepressant properties as well as for the well-being of the skin and to relieve cardiovascular problems.


Furthermore this essential oil is a excellent natural antibacterial which is used for the production of products made for an excellent home eco-cleaning.

 

How to eat bergamot

Bergamot is a citrus fruit and as such it must come to be used opened by removing the thick outer skin and separated into wedges.

It usually comes eaten so natural but its flavor is not always appreciated by everyone who may prefer to associate it with other fruits in fruit salads or even in mixed salads.


Bergamot fruit is also squeezed and drunk as a juice or by mixing it with the classic orange. Bergamot juice can also be a good dressing for salads and raw food.


Bergamot has a particular aroma that enhances the flavor of the recipes then its peel is added to flavor first courses with fish or vegetables but also in second courses and excellent for sweet recipes.

Among the sweet recipes, it is used for preparation of jams but also to flavor creams, ice creams, smoothies and other fruit desserts.

 

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Photo: Sirichai Asawalapsakul / 123rf.com

 

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