Bergamot orange

Bergamot orange

''This article is about the citrus fruit. For the herb, see Monarda didyma.

The bergamot (Citrus aurantium ssp. bergamia) is a small and roughly pear-shaped citrus fruit originating and grown mainly in Calabria, Italy. Bergamot grow on small evergreen trees known as bergamots, which are produced from a cross of the pear lemon and the Seville orange or grapefruit. Shoots of the bergamot tree can also be grafted into similar citrus trees to produce the bergamot fruit. The flowers of the bergamot tree blossom during the spring.

The bergamot orange is unrelated to the herb of the same name, Monarda didyma.

Production

Production mostly is limited to the Ionian coastal region of the province of Calabria in Italy, to such an extent that it is a symbol of the entire region. Most of the bergamot comes from a short stretch of land, the temperature is favourable. In no other part of the world does it fructify with the same yield and quality of essence; it is cultivated in Argentina, Brazil and Georgia, but the quality of the obtained essence is not comparable with the essence produced from the bergamots of Reggio Calabria due to the argillite, limestone and alluvial deposits found there.

Uses

In food

An essence extracted from the aromatic skin of this sour fruit is used to flavour Earl Grey tea and confectionery. One Italian food manufacturer produces a commercial marmalade using the fruit as its principal ingredient. It is also popular in Greece as a preserve, made with bergamot peel boiled in sugar syrup.

As a scent

Bergamot peel is used in perfumery for its ability to combine with an array of scents to form a bouquet of aromas which complement each other. Approximately one third of all men's and about half of women’s perfumes contain bergamot essential oil. Bergamot was a component of the original Eau de Cologne developed in 17th century Germany - in 1704 the bergamot was first used to make the now famous "Eau de toilette" from the bergamot fruit by scooping out the pulp and squeezing the peel into sponges.

Bergamot peel is also used in aromatherapy to treat depression and as a digestive aid.

Companion plant

Bergamot's aromatic roots are thought to mask other nearby plants from pests that attack their roots, and so are sometimes grown as a companion in vegetable gardens.

Toxicology

In one study, oil of bergamot has been linked to certain phototoxic effects (due to the chemical bergaptene) and blocking the absorption of potassium in the intestines.

Bergamot is also a source of bergamottin which, along with the chemically related compound 6’,7’-dihydroxybergamottin, is believed to be responsible for the grapefruit juice effect in which the consumption of the juice affects the metabolism of a variety of pharmaceutical drugs.

In sunscreens

In the past psoralen - extracted from bergamot oil - has been used in tanning accelerators and sunscreens. Psoralens penetrate the skin, where they increase the amount of direct DNA damage. This damage is responsible for sunburn and for an increased melanin production.
These substances were known to be photocarcinogenic since 1959, but they were only banned from sunscreens in 1995. These photocarcinogenic substances were banned years after they had caused many cases of malignant melanoma and deaths. Psoralen is now used only in the treatment of certain skin disorders, as part of PUVA therapy.

Witch craft

Bergamot was said to be used in witch craft by the Italian calabrian wiccas that used the fruit in potions to make women fertile, men impotent. or to get rid of warts or blemishes. Today there is a well-known pagan cult that worship the god given name of the Bergamot. On their talismans is a bergamot orange.

Footnotes

External links

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