Bergamots (Citrus aurantium) can be found in Greece, Cyprus, Italy, and other Mediterranean countries. Bergamot originated in Asia and is a small tree with long, oval green leaves with white flowers, which blossom during the spring. The bergamot bears a small fruit which matures early January and is about the size of an orange but it’s shape is between an orange and a big lemon and it’s colour looks more like an orange.
The fruit is not edible but an essential oil is extracted from the aromatic peel of this sour fruit and is used to flavour confectionery. We also make marmalade with its peel as well as liqueur. Your can also use its zest in cakes and cookies. The spoon sweet (preserve) is ideal for eating it as it is or on top of tarts or creams. When the spoon sweet is eaten the leftover syrup is ideal for wetting sponges, or lady fingers, to use as a base for desserts.
I did not want the bergamot zest to be wasted so some of it was placed in ice cubes and freezed to be used in cakes and the remaining was used to make a bergamot liqueur.
You can follow the same procedure as for the orange liqueur I made recently.
To make citrus spoon sweets such as bergamots, oranges, bitter oranges, grapefruit, lemons, limes, kumquats or tangerines, the bitterness must first be removed, before proceeding to the actual preserving. If you like them to have some bitterness skip one day. Tangerines and kumquats are made using the entire fruit provided they are seedless and pierced with a skewer in a couple of spots after scrubbing.
Glyko Bergamonto (Bergamot spoon sweet)
Preparation time: See below
Cooking time: See below
- 7 bergamots (about 1200 grams – 2.65 lbs peels)
- *Sugar: weigh the peels and place the same amount of sugar
- 1 lemon, only the juice
- 1 ½ cups of water
- ½ cup lemon juice, divided
*Sugar: In order to make spoon sweets the ratio is roughly 1 – 1 fruit to sugar. This is adjusted and less sugar is added if fruit is naturally sweet. In this case we are only using the peels, so they are weighed when they are ready to be used.
- Wash the bergamots, wipe them and using a fine kitchen grater, grate until the rind becomes bright yellow. Once you have scrubbed all the bergamots, cut a small piece off the top and the bottom and with a sharp knife score the peel into three or four equal sections, depending on the size. Using the tip of the knife, gently remove the skin and discard the inner part as it is not edible. From the skin you must now remove as much white pith from the bergamot peels as possible. Now is when you weigh the fruit and use the same amount of sugar.
- Thread a large sewing needle and make a knot at the end. Take each peel and roll it as tight as you can. Pass the needle through and thread each piece. An easier way to hold each rolled peel together, is with a toothpick for each piece.
- Place them in a large pot and cover them with water. As they will float put a plate on top of them to keep them submerged. Bring to boiling point only for 2 – 3 minutes and turn off the heat.
- Next day, empty water and add fresh water. Boil again for 2 – 3 minutes. Repeat this procedure for three more days. On the last day after the boiling procedure, immediately empty hot water, add fresh cold water and half of the lemon juice. Put them back again on the heat and boil for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave them in the hot water until it becomes cold. Drain them and remove the thread or toothpicks, carefully.
- Put them back into the pot again and add the sugar and the water. Leave it until the sugar dissolves and bring to a boil. Lower heat to medium and boil for fifteen minutes. Remove from heat and leave it until the following day. The last day place them again on the heat, bring to a boil, then lower to a simmer and cover with the lid slightly ajar. Simmer, stirring and skimming occasionally, for about an hour, or until the syrup is ready.
- Finally add the remaining lemon juice, stir and leave it to cool completely.
- Store in clean and sterilized glass jars with a lid.
Note: Grated Bergamot zest can be used to flavour cakes but also to make a liqueur.
Update: 15 January, 2015:
A few days ago my daughter asked me to make this preserve which is her favourite. I found some lovely bergamots at the farmer’s market on Tuesday but she was leaving to the U.K. for her Erasmus program on Friday early in the morning, so I had to have it ready by Thursday evening.
To speed up the procedure for removing the bitterness I changed the water about 5- 6 times, (morning, noon and evening) and did the boiling process after adding fresh water. At the end of the last time (noon of Thursday), after trying a piece to see if the bitterness was removed, the bitterness was totally removed, so I boiled the preserve with the sugar until the thermometre reached 105 degrees Celsius. I added the lemon juice and bottled the preserve once it cooled.
Note: the leftover syrup is so delicious and aromatic that I always add more sugar and water(ratio 1:1) to have more leftover to use in recipes which need a syrup to be added in the end. Think of Baklavas, Galaktoboureko, revani, karydopita, daktyla, etc.
You can find this and many other Greek recipes in my cookbooks «More Than A Greek Salad», and«Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste!» both available on all Amazon stores. Read more here.
Other related recipes:
Glyko Kerassi (Cherry Spoon Sweet)
Glyko Karpouzi (Water Melon)
Glyko Nerantzi (Bitter oranges)
Glyko Vyssino (Sour cherries)
Glyko Karydaki (green immature walnuts)
Glyko Kydoni me amygdala (Quince with almonds)
Glyko Kydoni me kastana (Quince with chestnuts)
Glyko Milo (Apples)
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,