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.