Calabria Bergamot is a rare and relatively unknown citrus, but with exceptional organoleptic, nutritional and curative properties. It is one of the main agricultural and food excellences of Calabria, which is the world’s leading producing region. In fact, bergamot is mainly grown in the area of the Lower Ionian around Reggio, where the company Le Terre di Zoè is also located: see the brand profile.
Since 2001, the P.D.O. (Protected Origin Denomination) "Bergamotto di Reggio Calabria - Olio essenziale" has been recognized by European Union Decree.
The origins of bergamot
The origin of the name bergamot is uncertain; it is unlikely to be linked to the city of Bergamo, where the fruit could not prosper for climatic reasons; one of the prevailing theories is that it may derive from the Turkish word "beg-ar-mundi", which means "pear of the lord" and therefore refers to the shape of the fruit.
Equally uncertain is the genetic and geographical origin of the plant, as it is certainly very old; could be derived by genetic mutation from another citrus such as lemon, lime or bitter orange and the various theories and legends trace its geographical origin to Spain or other areas of the Mediterranean, or to China.
Uses of the Calabria Bergamot
Bergamot is a lime-like citrus shape and has a rather thin skin of a green to yellow color. The bergamot skin is rich in essential oils that have an intense scent. The essence is used as a food flavoring, especially to aromatize tea (the famous variety Earl Grey). In the kitchen, the zest is used above all, always to flavor dishes of various kinds. It is possible to obtain pastry products such as creams and biscuits, but also risotto and condiments for recipes of blue fish.
Bergamot is also used to make juices, jams, as well as candied fruit. The pulp, being rather acidic and slightly bitter, is more difficult to use in cooking recipes.
Properties of bergamot
Bergamot is rich in vitamins C, A and B vitamins (B1 and B2), contains flavonoids, which are phenolic compounds with a strong antioxidant power and naringenin, a polyphenol that helps to lower high blood sugar.
The color of bergamot indicates a high content of betacarotene, which is a powerful antioxidant. Beta-carotene provides our body with vitamin A, which is essential for iron metabolism, skin health, vision and immune system.
Medical research has shown that bergamot also has the effect of countering bad cholesterol (LDL) because the flavonoids it contains act as natural statins. However, if taken in large quantities may also have the effect of affecting blood pressure; therefore, those predisposed to hypertension (as well as glaucoma, bronchial asthma and bradycardia), must seek medical advice before making constant use of it.