Fruit and Veg

A Chef's Guide to Rare Citrus

Written by Tom Moggach
October 25, 2021

There are hundreds of varieties of citrus - from bergamot to diamond cedro and beyond. Little surprise, then, that speciality fruits have become a chef's favourite at this time of year.

There has been a spike of interest in citrus fruits in recently, with specialist growers bringing a wide range of rare varieties to market.

Agrumes Baches in France, for example, cultivates several hundred different varieties of citrus fruits - and these are routed to UK chefs and caterers via traders at New Covent Garden Market.

'Green' citrus is also gaining traction. This is when the fruit is picked earlier, before the skin starts to colour and the sugar levels reach their peak.

At this stage, the citrus has a different flavour profile and the zest has a high concentration of volatile essential oils.

Here's a roundup of some different varieties available at the Market. You may find they are available as a special order only - so contact the supplier first and order in advance.

Bergamot

Bergamot may be a cross between a bitter orange and a lime and is mainly grown in Calabria in Southern Italy. The season runs from October to January. There are various varieties, such as Femminello, Castagnaro and Fantastico.

In the kitchen, bergamot is often used by pastry chefs or as a souring agent in ceviche or to balance out robust flavours such as game. You can find more info on this fruit - including further recipe inspiration - in our detailed Chef's Guide.

New Covent Garden Market Chefs Guide Citrus Bergamot

Buddha's Hand

Definitely the most bizarre-looking citrus. Buddha's Hand is generally used my mixologists and drinks companies. Hangar One, for example, make a vodka flavoured with the fruit, which they state has a lower acidity and more complex aromatic profile than lemons. It's culinary usage is more limited.

New Covent Garden Market Chefs Guide Citrus Buddhas Hand

Cedro

Grown in Italy, this fruit is prized for the sweet pith and fragrant skin - rather than the juice. Their season runs November to March. Varieties include Diamante (a.k.a. Diamond) cedro. Candied cedro is a traditional ingredient in many pastries from Sicily. Chef Skye Gyngell, who runs Spring restaurant in Somerset House in London, offers this recipe for cedro and bergamot marmalade.

New Covent Garden Market Chefs Guide Citrus Cedro

Finger Lime

Some years ago, this fruit was mainly grown in Australia but is now also sourced from growers in France and Italy. There are various varieties, ranging in colour from yellow to purple. When squeezed, the flesh has a shape and texture similar to caviar.

New Covent Garden Market Chefs Guide Citrus Finger Lime

At Giannino's in Mayfair, the chefs prepare a dish of “Mazara del Vallo” red prawns, sliced thin and serve raw with finger lime and avocado cream.

New Covent Garden Market Chefs Guide Citrus Giannino Red Prawns Finger Lime

Chef Hideki Endo in Paris makes a dish of seaweed tacos with finger lime caviar.

New Covent Garden Market Chefs Guide Citrus Hideki Endo Finger Lime Caviar

Kumquat

Kumquats are available nearly year round and are known for their remarkable balance of sweet (the skin) and sour (the juice) notes.

New Covent Garden Market Chefs Guide Citrus Kumquats

At Meraki restaurant in Fitzrovia, they serve a seabass ceviche with kumquat, grapes, black sesame seeds, citrus dressing and coriander.

New Covent Garden Market Chefs Guide Citrus Seabass Ceviche Meraki 2

At Ping Pong they make a kumquat mojito with white rum, limes, mint leaves and kumquats.

New Covent Garden Market Chefs Guide Citrus Kumquat Mojito 2

Yuzu

Yuzu juice has been a chefs' secret weapon for years -known for it's intriguing complex flavour. Now the green and yellow fresh fruit are increasingly available. The juice is often whisked into dressings, such as at Inamo restaurant, where they serve a seared bavette steak with ponzu and yuzu miso truffle sauce.

New Covent Garden Market Chefs Guide Citrus Yuzu

On a sweeter note, pastry chef Erin Steidley makes a coconut sorbet dessert with yuzu and finger lime.

New Covent Garden Market Chefs Guide Citrus Erin Stedley Coconut Sorbet

You can learn more about speciality ingredients in our archive of Chef's Guides below.

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