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Feb 16, 2011 12:13 PM

What do people do with fresh bergamot, anyway?

This question comes up ocassionally with not much response.

One fresh bergamot citrus fruit

what to do with a bergamot?

The most frequent response is marmalade

Other ideas
- use the zest t infuse a panna cotta
- use the zest in savory dishes like white bean salad
- dry and make tea.

Should you make that marmelade (which I DO like), here's some ideas on how to use it.

Someone offered the thought of infusing vodka but hadn't tried it. I don't know, then you have the problem of what to do with bergamot vodka. Might be a waste of good booze

This link has a recipe for a cocktail made with

1 ounce gin
1/2 ounce green Chartreuse
3/4 ounce bergamot juice
1 dash Herbsaint, absinthe or Pernod

I haven't tried it, but with all those flavors that I find distateful in one glass, I have to think this is what is served for happy hour in hell.

The same person made bergamocello out of bergamots from Whole Foods ... gutsy move, considering what it must have cost.

The description of the bergamocello is intriguing ... because it doesn't taste like bergamot

" The finished product is really interesting and good. Not too sweet, reminiscent of grapefruit with hints of spice and spicy herbs. It’s almost middle-eastern or indian in flavor: cardamom, nigella, coriander. It’s definitely similar to, but distinctly different from, the flavors in the bergamot juice.'

This cocktail with bergamot juice and a Amaro," an Italian digestivo that can be made from a number of interesting igredients such as artichokes, walnuts, licorice and herbs" has the potential of being the devil's drink. It uses Eagle rare bourbon.

Danielle Patterson, chef owner of COI restaurant in SF writes of bergamot

"The rind is what gives bergamot its familiar, elegant aroma. When zested, it smells like grapefruit layered with notes of white pepper and dust, reminiscent of the musty formality of a stately old home. But the most thrilling part of fresh bergamot is the juice—it is bracingly, ferociously sour, similar to that of the Seville orange. In fact, the flavor is so intense that if you use a juicer, it’s important to press the fruit gently, without squeezing the rind too much, to avoid making juice that’s excessively bitter."

Yeah ... musty old house ... that's it ... belonging to your great aunt Lavinia who smells of sachet.

However, there might be something in that tip about squeezing the juice that may be helpful.

He does suggest using it with vodka and suggest the juice be added to Earl Grey tea with the booze. There's also a bergamot lemonade idea.

This link did have a nice-sounding recipe for bergamot orange custard cups and some interesting ideas in the comments section

One comment about bergamot sorbet at a restaurant, I thought had a nice description despite my general dislike for the flavor of fresh bergamot.

"The Bergamot sorbet was a revelation; one of those few moments in one's entire life when a seemingly simple food could completely astound and astonish you. Being surprised, and pleasantly pleased, by the additon of black pepper to a citrus sorbet, I was told that, no, there was only Bergamot juice (and I assume a bit of sugar) used in the concoction. The black pepper taste (not simply the "bitter" taste everyone describes)is the beguiling essence of Bergamot, unlike anything else I had ever tasted. It was so truly delicious and astounding and overwhelming all at once that I could have believed there really is a God."

Yeah, it is writing like that that sucks me into buying stuff like bergamot.

Someone else "used them dried to flavor soups, chopped up with herbs and dried tomatoes to flavor baked fish"

Some links with general info about bergamot

So ... any other ideas of what to do with fresh bergamot?

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  1. apart from shaking someone's head violently?

    Always been an infused flavor or a tea for me; could potentially be used for patisserie or some seafood as a savory application but I'd have to test that and I don't have any bergamot at the moment..

    1 Reply
    1. re: wattacetti

      The bergamot used in tea, as Earl Grey, is not the fruit but the oils from the leaves, thus not the same thing.

    2. Some good tips from the SF board

      "The juice is so sour it can be used in place of lemon juice, as in to make lemon curd.

      I also use them to make Vin D'Orange (white wine and vodka infused with the oranges and spices)"

      1. There was a video on this very site a few weeks ago showing a chef making beef heart tartare, and he used a bit of bergamot in it.

        1. Bergamot,Bergamotto, sourced primarily in Puglia, grows wild as well as cultivated in groves, and has been harvested for over 200 years as a flavoring agent for Earl Grey tea. Aside from that use it has little use in Italian cooking other than marmalade and Some Italian sodas.

            1. re: chefathome

              chefathome...I will try that next time I make Pann Cotta, sounds like a refreshing addition to the dessert.

              1. re: ospreycove

                Very refreshing and interesting, not to mention a little uncommon which is also fun!