What can I do with fresh bergamots?

Many of us have tasted Earl Grey tea as an example of a common bergamot pairing, though most of us have probably never consumed the actual fresh fruit, due to its unpalatably bitter, acidic taste. What can you do with fresh bergamot? Favored for their distinctive, aromatic citrus notes, the bergamots’ essential oils and juices are very often infused into teas, liqueurs and even perfumes. Now let’s find out how you can pair them!

Aroma analysis: fresh bergamot

At Foodpairing®, we begin each of our studies of various ingredients with a thorough aroma analysis. This information enables us to determine best matches of fresh bergamot based on aromatic profiles and the principle that ingredients that share key scents pair well with one another. Read more on the science behind Foodpairing®.

The findings of our chemical analysis of fresh bergamots are visualized in this easy-to-understand aroma wheel. As you can see below, the different aroma molecules have been broken down and sorted by category and labeled using more general, familiar ‘aromatic descriptors’ like citrus, herbal, woody, spicy and floral.

aroma wheel bergamot foodpairing flavour pairing flavors fresh bergamot cook oil juice pairings

Citric-herbal aromas in fresh bergamot

Fresh bergamots are characterized as having two dominant aromas: first, the obvious combined essence of both the citrus and peel; secondly, a combination citrus-coriander-like scent. But take a deep inhale, and you’ll begin to notice some underlying herbal, piney notes, along with a floral, rose-like scent.

“Although too acidic to be eaten on its own, the bergamot’s distinctive citrus notes pair especially well as an accent.”

They can be used to enhance the milder flavors of lemons and oranges, while adding wonderful complexity when combined with kumquats or yuzu. Bergamots also work well together with fresh herbs like basil, rosemary, sage and even thyme. This fragrant citrus has a natural affinity for bold, heady spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cumin, cardamom (think ras-el-hanout) and star anise. Other aromatic matches include ginger and lemongrass. Try these bergamot pairings and see what you think!


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Interested in learning how to pair the flavors of other ingredients? Visit the ingredient section of our blog!

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