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Glyko Bergamonto (Bergamot spoon sweet)

Bergamot glyko tou koutaliou

Glyko Bergamonto or Bergamot fruit preserve is one of the most delicious and aromatic Greek fruit preserves (glyka tou koutaliou in Greek).

Bergamots (Citrus Bergamia) 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 raw 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 and flesh 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.

There was lots of leftover bergamot zest.  As I did not want the bergamot zest to go wasted, 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 how to make bergamot liqueur, following the same method used for the orange liqueur I made recently.  However, the more time you let the zest or peel steep in the alcohol, the better, as more flavour will be extracted.

Image straining bergamot zest

In this case I used the leftover bergamot zest.

The easiest liqueur I have made is the Espresso Cherry Liqueur in Five minutes, using leftover cherry syup.  However, you can also make a Cherry Liqueur by using only the pits.

photo of orange peels fruit preserve

You can follow the same method to make the preserve using only the peels by using oranges, lemons, grapefruit, bitter oranges (Seville oranges) or other kinds of citrus having a thick peel.

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.

collage making citrus fruit preserve - glyko bergamot

Glyko Bergamonto (Bergamot spoon sweet)

Preparation time: See below

Cooking time: See below

Makes: 21


  • 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


To make preserves with fruit that do not contain sugar, in this case the peels, the ratio sugar to fruit is 1:1.   Weigh peels after grating them and add the same amount of sugar.  As the peels will not extract any juices we also add water to make the syrup.

For other fruit the amount of sugar and water is adjusted accordingly.


  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Finally add the remaining lemon juice, stir and leave it to cool completely.
  7. Store in clean and sterilized glass jars with a lid.

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.

Leftover syrup from fruit preserve

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:

Strawberry Liqueur

Glyka tou Koutaliou or Spoon sweets
How can we tell if the syrup is ready?
How to fix spoon sweets


Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,

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26 Responses

  1. Bellini Valli

    Wonderful on all accounts Ivy. It seemed that when I was in Greece we were often given spoon sweets at the end of a meal, or fresh fruit (it was cherry season at the time), or sometimes flowers. I have some Citron I purchased on Naxos…but your liqueur of the household would be delicious I am sure of it 😀

  2. Cakelaw

    Thanks for an interesting post Ivy – I had never heard of a bergamot before.

  3. Ivy

    Thanks Val, the two jars of bergamot have disappeared in no time. I have merely saved two pieces for my son who is coming back from Australia tomorrow.
    The liqueur, I have been making good use of it both in sweet and savory dishes which I have not yet posted.
    The liqueur by itself is a dynamite, very aromatic but too strong for me as I rarely drink alcohol.

  4. Ivy

    Cakelaw, likewise my brother who lives in Australia has never heard of it before.

  5. Emiline

    Well! I’ve learned something today. I’ve never heard of bergamot. Too bad you can’t eat the fruit.
    How wonderful to make your own flavored liquor. I wish I could have some. I’m feeling stressed out right now.

  6. Núria

    I’m also ignorant about Bergamot. Maybe I heart about it to make infussions with its seeds, is that possible?
    Thanks Ivy for englightening me in the liquors making. Maybe one day I prepare my own too!!!

  7. Ivy

    Hi Emiline, these fruit liqueurs are very good and you can make them with the fruits that have a strong aroma.

    Nuria I don’t know anything about what can be made with its seeds but I am surprised you don’t know it in Spain because I was under the impression that this fruit is a cross between Lemon and the Valencia orange.

  8. Peter M

    I’m sure no Bergamots exist in Canada but what are they called in Greek?

  9. Ivy

    It’s called Bergamont or or Bergamonto.

  10. Rosie

    Hi Ivy, I did hear of bergamot oil when I visited an herbal shop and it recommended to be added with Aloe Vera for skin irritations!?!?

    But a great informative post Ivy that I have learnt so very much here – thank you!

    Rosie x

  11. Ivy

    Thanks Rosie. I just learned a few more things reading wiki and just read that it is used in half of womens’ perfumes.

  12. Pixie

    I never heard of it but I wish I could try it!!!

  13. Jess Voloudakis

    I’ve heard of bergamot as a flavoring for tea, but never as a spoon sweet! I have a friend who will love to see this.


  14. Susan from Food Blogga

    Now that’s one fruit I’ve never seen at the farmers’ market. Perhaps a little research in Greece is in order. 🙂

  15. White On Rice Couple

    These fruits are sooo interesting. WE’ve heard of them, but have yet to see them. Another thing we’ve learned from you! Can’t wait to learn more!

  16. Ivy

    Pixie, this is the nice thing about blogging, we get to learn some new things.
    Jess, thanks for passing by. I’ve heard about tea as well. Hope your friend likes this.
    Susan, even here in Greece I haven’t seen it for many years, so a few weeks ago when I saw it I bought it and now feel sorry that I did not buy much more.
    Thanks a lot white on rice couple, you have so many interesting things on your site and must make time to read them.

  17. swirlingnotions

    So interesting to learn more about bergamot! One of my favorite fragrances. Thanks, too, for the memory of spoon sweets in Greece!

  18. Ivy

    One of my favourites as well.

  19. Kalyn

    What an interesting post. I remember hearing this word before, but truly I had no idea what a bergamot was. I can tell you’re very creative in the kitchen by how you’ve used it.

    Also, what a beautiful place you’re living in. I was there for three days once and fell in love with the entire country of Greece, but I loved seeing the historical sights in Athens.

  20. Anna

    spoon sweets really intrigue me.

    they’re such a simple, genius idea but not many people seem to eat them outside the middle east/mediterranean.

    i would love to make this, but where to find bergamots in sydney (australia)??? i will have to keep a look out!

  21. african vanielje

    I have never come across bergamots (except in Earl Grey tea) and found this a fascinating post. THank you

  22. pixen

    Ola Ivy,

    May I know where I can find this fruit in Athens? When is the best season? I was in Athens few months before learning of your blog…

  23. Ivy

    Hi Pixen. This is a winter fruit. I don’t know exactly when but I found it sometime end of January – beginning of February and never seen it since.

  24. Bill

    Cool. Looks delicious! I wonder how that one taste like. I haven’t tasted anything like that. Thank you for your wonderful photo.

  25. Martha Jones

    Bergamot is quite unknown to me. I felt pleased with your post. Would you mind giving more usages of it?

  26. Kacie

    This is actually a really good concoction. the portioning is really great. Bergamots can sometimes be hard to find in stores but there are online stores that have them much cheaper and ships internationally