January and February are very “effervescent” months in the Mediterranean basin because it is the time of harvest for citrus fruits
which are destined to produce essential oils for the fragrance industry.
The generic term citrus fruit , covers the plants which belong to the rutacee family, which include as well as the well-known Italian oranges, bitter orange, bergamot, lime, citron, lemon, mandarin and grapefruit, also recently imported variety and hybrids such as kumquat (which originates from China, also called Chinese mandarin and is smaller than its European counterpart) and yuzu, a sweet lemon which is widely used in Japan.
In the fragrance industry, the essential oils obtained by expression
from the rind of the fruit, belong to the Citrus facet
also known as hesperidia, a name which is derived from Greek mythology. The Hesperidia were in fact nymphs who guarded the magic garden full of golden fruit, oranges. These sparkling notes give liveliness, sun-kissed freshness and tonic to compositions. They are the base of many eaux de colognes.
Even though the original homeland of these fruits is the Far East, today they are widely cultivated in the sub-tropical band around the world. The main producer is the USA, above all Florida famous for grapefruit, followed by the Mediterranean, Asia and South America. In Italy the cultivation is mainly concentrated in the southern regions. The most important region in terms of quantity but most importantly in terms of world wide quality production of bergamot is Calabria where some companies have reached levels of true excellence. A little curiosity: in the fragrance industry not only the rind of the Bigaradier (in English the Bitter Orange) is used but also the flowers with different extraction methods giving different results according to the various parts of the plant used: Bigarade, the essential oil of the bitter orange and the delicate essence of Néroli of orange blossom, which comes from the distillation of the flower.
Finally, petit grain is obtained using the leaves and flowers of various citrus fruits: it is called in the various cases petit grain mandarinier, citronnier, bigaradier… With regard to petit grain obtained from the orange tree, the most precious types comes from Paraguay.