Bergamot, also known as bee balm, is a perennial herb related to mint. It produces lavender or scarlet flowers amid rich greenery. The leaves are used both fresh or dried, depending on what you are using them for and your personal preference. As a herb, bergamot is rarely the star of a dish. Lavender and scarlet bergamot is used to add a lightly spicy, citrus-flavored taste and aroma to cooked dishes and teas. Take advantage of this herb in your garden to add new flavors to your favorite recipes.
Bring a pot of water just to a boil. Place one or two tablespoons of dried bergamot leaves in the water and remove from the heat. Let steep for 10 minutes for a strong-flavored tea.
Add fresh bergamot leaves to soups and other stove-top cooked dishes near the end of the cooking time, usually 10 to 15 minutes before turning off the heat. This allows the leave to impart their flavor without losing strength from over-cooking.
Add dried leaves to recipes that call for sage, such as chicken and bread stuffing dishes. Bergamot offers the same complex flavor sage imparts, but adds a bit of citrus tang as well.
Slice fresh leaves finely with a knife and add to jams or jellies during the last five minutes of cooking time. Stir well prior to canning or freezing to evenly distribute the leaves.