March 21, 2012 by staff
Calabria Bergamot, Citrus bergamia, the Bergamot orange, is a fragrant fruit the size of an orange, with a yellow colour similar to a lemon. Genetic research into the ancestral origins of extant citrus cultivars matched the bergamot as a likely hybrid of Citrus limetta and Citrus aurantium.
Citrus bergamot is a native hybrid of and commercially grown in Calabria, southern Italy, where more than 80% are found. It is also grown in southern France and in Côte d’Ivoire for the essential oil. The fruit is not grown for juice consumption.
Citrus bergamia is a small tree which blossoms during the winter. The juice tastes less sour than lemon, but more bitter than grapefruit. The distinctive aroma of the bergamot is most commonly known for its use in Earl Grey tea. The juice of the fruit has also been used in Calabrian indigenous medicine to treat malaria, and its essential oil is popular in aromatherapy applications.
The bergamot orange is unrelated to the herbs of the same name, Monarda didyma and Monarda fistulosa, which are in the mint family. The active ingredients in bergamot juice are neoeriocitrin, naringin, neohesperidin, ponceritin, melitidin, and brutieridin. Melitidin and brutieridin, only recently discovered, exist only in citrus bergamot, and exhibit statin-like properties. Synephrine is not present in citrus bergamot.
Citrus bergamia has also been classified as Citrus aurantium subsp. bergamia (i.e. a subspecies of bitter orange).
Citrus bergamia is sometimes confused with (but is not the same as) Citrus medica (citron, the yellow fruit of which is also known as etrog).
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