Monday, January 16, 2017

Bergamots

Ever since I first flipped through Sarah Randell's 'Marmalade' I've wanted to get my hands on some bergamots and only 3 years later I've finally realised that ambition.

Leicestershire isn't the easiest place to source the more exotic citrus fruits. Finding blood oranges is an annual challenge - Waitrose sells them, though they call them blush oranges which seems positively Victorian in its desire to spare the customers delicate sensibilities (have squeamish shoppers swooned at the very mention of blood?) but I can't find them anywhere else. It's not always easy to find Seville oranges either, though thankfully that's changing.

It was whilst hunting for blood oranges that I got the promise of bergamots - the blood oranges aren't available yet but, and bless Waitrose for this, bergamots apparently are. They had to be ordered specially, so on the strict understanding that I was a serious buyer and not just teasing the fruit and veg specialist with empty promises - and now I'm the proud owner of 10 of them. They cost a pound each and I have no particular idea what to do with them, but they're a cheery yellow colour and smell fabulous.

Having got my prize home I thought I ought to do some research - it turns out that bergamots are the love child of bitter oranges and lemons, they come from Calabria, and obviously go into Earl Grey tea. It also seems that the things that the French call bergamots are specifically a sort of sweet lemon, not a bergamot as the Calabrians would recognise it, in terms of recipes this is probably important.

Sarah Randell adds bergamot juice to lemons to make a marmalade, but says she was told, and her experiments confirmed, that they are too bitter to make marmalade from just on their own. Some of mine will definitely go into a marmalade, a lemon and bergamot curd is also looking like an option. Digging around I've found a recipes for syrups (fine in principle, but in practice do you know anyone who ever uses these things?), a drizzle cake (much more promising), and I understand they make an excellent garnish for a gin and tonic.

I assume they will freeze much like Seville oranges, but for now even if I don't use all of them I'm so excited to have finally acquired some I'm happy. Even more so because the scent of them is making them far better value than flowers would have been.

Any suggestions or recommendations as to what else they can be used for would be gratefully received.

4 comments:

  1. Earl Grey and Lady Grey teas are long time favorites of mine and reading your post now I know the source of Bergamot. Thank you. Since you may make Lemon and Bergamot curd I will hurry over and visit you, that sounds delicious. Ha, ha, not really going to fly in from California.

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  2. Be quick, but go to https://www.riverford.co.uk/mil/shop/fruit-veg/fruit/blood-oranges-1kg. I can confirm that they are delicious. The company also has Bergamot lemons which are equally lovely. You need not order a whole box, they will do a bag as long as you spend £12.50 minimum. They do a lovely ewe's milk cheese too.

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  3. Ah! The best Greek spoon sweets are bergamot ones. That said, I've only ever bought it ready-made, but I assume it's just a very heavy sugar syrup and all that lovely huge thick rind. Gorgeous with a big hunk of cheese. My mother was planning to plant a bergamot last year, but they weren't available at the time - fingers crossed tho'.

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  4. All this time I've been thinking bergamots were some kind of herb! I have some bergamot handcream and it has that lovely bitter smell. Good like with your marmalade.

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