Bergamots

by Ciaran Burke

Lovely Bergamots and limesBergamot and lime fruits

“Can I photograph your bergamots?” I innocently enquired. “I have never been asked that before” the lady replied. Her husband enquired if I wanted to photograph his, I declined. It was all quite innocent, I was asking the friendly couple who run Kinnedan Organic Farm stall if I could photograph their strange and bitter sweet fruit.

Kinnedan Organic Farm stall at Boyle Farmers' market

It looks a bit like a lemon, but its not. It has segments like a grapefruit, but its small and yellow. It is a citrus fruit, Citrus bergamia, and its best known use is for flavouring Earl Grey tea.It is often confused with the herb bergamont which is Monarda didyma, an unrelated herbaceous perennial plant. My first taste of bergamot was in Italy, where it is known as chinoto. A soft drink is sold using the name Chinoto, it looks like cola but has a totally different taste, not as sweet, more aromatic. That was many years ago.

bergamot fruit

Bergamot Fruit cut in half with grated rind

My more recent encounter with bergamot fruit was at Kinnedan Organic farm stall at the Origin farmers market in Bolye, Co. Roscommon. In a basket the plump yellow fruits shared the space with ripe green limes. I mistook them for lemons but once you smell them you are left in in no doubt that this is something different. Citrus-ey and aromatic, the oily tanginess fills your nostrils, you know this is going to be something special.

Most of the world’s bergamot production seems to take place in Reggio-Calabria in the south of Italy, although they are also grown in Ivory Coast. The trees can grow up to 3 metres and have a bossom typical of citrus, white and fragrant. Bergamot fruits are mostly available in winter.

When I got home my mind was racing, my tummy was rumbling and mouth was watering. The possibilities were endless. First thing I tried was chicken marinated in bergamot juice, grated rind with chili and salt. Thinly sliced chicken breast left to marinade for about twenty minutes then fried and served with stir fried vegetables and brown basmati rice (all organic). It was simply delicious.

After having a savory dish I wanted to have something sweet, so I made both lime curd and bergamot curd. Both are equally delicious, super spread on fresh brown spelt bread or try adding some to natural yogurt, delish!

BERGAMOT CURD

(substitute limes for bergamots for lime curd)

Ingredients:

320g Organic Raw Cane Sugar

Juice of 2 Bergamot (or lime) fruit

2 table Spoons of Bergamot (or lime) grated rind

4 eggs

230gm unsalted butter

Method:

  1. Wash jam jars, dry well and place in cold oven. Heat to 100 degrees Celcius.
  2. Whisk eggs and sugar together for a few minutes until mixture smooth
  3. Add the bergamot rind and juice.
  4. Transfer to sauce pan and heat the mixture on medium setting, stirring constantly until mixture is thick, about 7 – 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from heat and stir in butter, a small amount at a time.
  6. Transfer to sterilized jars and cover with lids straight away.

Store the curd in a cool place or refrigerate, use within 3 weeks.

Make sure to clean outside of jars with a clean damp cloth and apply labels with date.

Ingredients for making curd

Adding the butter, a little at a time, stirring constantly

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: