The bergamot herb shares its name with the bergamot fruit and its aromatic extract. That’s not the only thing it shares — all three products have the same strong citrus note. Fresh bergamot herb is not easy to find unless you grow it yourself. If you want to use it but are unable to get some, try one of the following options.
Your best bet: Lemon balm
Lemon balm provides many of the same qualities that you want from bergamot. It belongs to the same family as mint and has a minty note just like bergamot, which is sometimes called horsemint. In addition, it has a citrus flavor as its name suggests. As with bergamot’s flavor, lemon balm’s light sweetness makes it suitable for many of the same applications that would require bergamot. Both show up in cocktails, teas, and other beverages.
Lemon balm is used as a remedy for colic, which is one of the complaints that bergamot is used to treat. In addition, lemon balm has long been used to calm nerves and ease anxiety just like bergamot. As you would with bergamot, you can use lemon balm as a salad green or you can chop it and add it to a salad dressing.
A decent second choice: Bergamot extract
Bergamot extract comes from the orange-like citrus fruit for which the herb is named. While historians believe the fruit to have originated in Asia, it is more commonly associated with Italy and is probably named after the Italian town of Bergamo. While it may not have the minty notes that you would get from its herbal namesake, bergamot extract is a great match for the main part of the flavor profile. Bergamot extract will provide the same spicy and floral citrus flavor as the herb.
Bergamot extract has some of the same benefits as the herb in that it can help to relieve anxiety. Another benefit is that it works as a natural statin that you can use to reduce the health risks associated with heart disease. Bergamot extract is not going to a perfect substitute for the herb in a salad, but you can use it to flavor a vinaigrette that you can then use along with other salad ingredients.
In a pinch: Spearmint and orange zest
The main flavor profile of the bergamot herb is that of citrus accompanied by a minty undertone. By combining spearmint with the zest of an orange, you will be getting a similar flavor along with the health benefits of each. Both spearmint and orange zest provide similar antimicrobial benefits as bergamot. They each can be effective aids for digestion as well.
Lavender belongs to the same Lamiaceae family as both bergamot and mint. It has floral and citrus notes as a part of its flavor profile and may be able to work as a bergamot replacement in certain instances.
Oregano is another member of the mint family that can stand in for bergamot, but only in certain dishes. When bergamot is used as a culinary herb in savory dishes, its flavor is sometimes likened to that of oregano.
Earl Grey tea is best known for its distinctive bergamot flavor. It is also easy to find. If you want to make a beverage with the bergamot flavor, Earl Grey tea might be a good option.