New Flavour: Bergamot
Those of you who appreciate food and cooking know how important the sense of smell is. Nothing evokes good memories more - be it fresh baked bread, a chocolate cake or coffee brewing in the morning.
For us, as artisan ice cream makers, one of the joys of making each and every ice cream flavour in small batches is the intense scent that lingers in our kitchen while we balance our recipe and prepare all of our fresh ingredients. Nothing beats those days spent making vanilla ice cream, slicing open a hand full of fresh vanilla pods and letting them infuse overnight. Or plucking several big bunches of fresh mint leaves off their stalks while juicing stacks of Italian lemons to prepare our lemon-mint sorbet.
And then, just when we thought it couldn’t get any better… we discovered bergamot!
The bergamot is a delightfully fragrant citrus fruit – but not like any citrus fruit you may have ever tasted or smelled before.
It has distinctive bitter yet spicy-floral notes. Tart, acidic and highly aromatic.
Bergamot are about the size of an orange yet similar in colour to a lime (greenish/yellow).
They are mainly cultivated for their essential oils which are found in the thick rind, and which is a prized (rare and expensive) ingredient used to make perfumes, colognes, scented soaps, and of course, it is indeed what gives Earl Grey tea its signature flavor and aroma.
One of the most famous perfumes to use bergamot in its blend is THE “4711 Eau de Cologne” - developed in Cologne in 1676 by an Italian immigrant, and commercialized by his son-in-law, Gian Maria Farina in 1709. You might also recognize it in Chanel No. 5
But Bergamot is not limited to perfume. Despite its juice being rather bitter, bergamot is used in kitchens throughout the Mediterranean and northern Africa (particularly in tagine dishes) and the French city of Nancy even has a famous bergamot candy.
And here we are… bringing 100% natural bergamot sorbet to Munich!
The season of maturity is late winter. Harvesting is done by hand (as not to damage the rind and its valued essential oil) from early December to February . A very short yet bitter sweet season! Making this a really special sorbet flavour, which we will only offer “now” (in March/April) while it lasts!
The bergamot from Calabria are widely regarded as being the best which might explain why roughly 90% of the global production of bergamot comes from the Reggio Calabria province in southern Italy. In fact, the tree on which they grow, can only be found in a small area ranging from Villa San Giovanni, just north of Reggio to Monasterace, which is around the tip about 100 miles along the coast. Bergamot from other rare parts of the world are said to be of a much more inferior quality, in particular the potency of the natural oils in the rind does not compare that of Calabrian bergamot.
Historically, Bergamot fruit juice was used by the indigenous people of Italy to treat malaria. Other medical notes mention that it was also used as an antiseptic and to reduce fevers. Its essential oil also eases stress, anxiety, and depression while enhancing the body’s digestive process (which is one of the many reasons why earl grey tea is so popular). The fruit is a good source of vitamin C, potassium, vitamins B1, B2, and A.
Bergamot naturally contain an abundance of nutraceutical compounds, which have made them very popular amongst scientists studying the antioxidant potential of plant-derived phenolic compounds for human health. A study by the University of Catanzaro in Italy found that bergamot could even aide in weight loss, and prevent diabetes by reducing blood sugar.
This makes bergamot something of a superfood. With roughly 350 polyphenols in high concentration, they have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and vasoprotective properties. Two polyphenols specifically are so effective in controlling cholesterol, that they are considered to be a real natural ‘statin’.
There is even a Bergamot Consortium in Calabria, which was founded by the Italian government in 1946 in order to protect the geographical brand (Bergamot have DOP status) as well as provide a supportive framework for sustainable development and production of Bergamot for the global market. Most importantly, since Bergamot essential oil is in such high demand for the cosmetics industry, the “Bergamot Consortium” guarantees the continuous availability of pure bergamot essence (as opposed to synthetic). Because Bergamot is such a prized and rare ingredient, it is often adulterated. The Consortium aims at limiting the potential for bergamot oil to be imitated as well as lessen the competition between growers by forming a cohesive group of farmers which work together.
In fact, for social and economic stability alone, it is important that we as consumers support the Calabrian bergamot trade by refusing to buy cheap substitutes. Calabria is a region characterized by high unemployment (particularly among young people) and low income – a situation which has worsened over the last years because of the economic crisis – which is why job opportunities and creation of sources of income in Calabria are an urgent need. high-quality bergamot production is a natural monopoly of southern Calabria given the unique agro-ecological conditions of the region and the fact that bergamot rarely grow elsewhere in the world. The quality of Calabrian bergamot, coupled with the demands of the fragrance industry have created opportunity for social and economic stability – IF enough consumers are willing to work directly and pay a fair price.
For this reason, and true to our business philosophy (hence “true and 12”), we bought the last of this seasons bergamot directly from an organic farm in Calabria. We juiced each fruit separately by hand and made the most fragrant sorbet. It pairs well with chocolate or vanilla or even matcha green tea. And we can't wait for you to try it! But hurry. The supply is limited and the harvest doesn’t take place for another 12 months… so get it while it lasts!