The Bergamotto di Reggio Calabria is grown in the form of three cultivars, known as “femminello”, “castagnaro” and “fantastico”. The cultivars differ mainly in the appearance of the fruit: the femminello is the most productive and has small, smooth fruit; the castagnaro is a vigorous grower, with larger, rough-skinned fruit; the fantastico is similar to the femminello but the fruit is more elongated, rather like a pear. Nowadays, the cultivar most commonly used for planting new orchards is the fantastico.
The different uses of the fruit depend to a large extent on the degree of maturation. The ripe, yellow fruit is used for the extraction of essential oil, and is also employed as flavouring; the unripe, green fruit is used in the confectionary industry, especially for making candied fruit, and in perfumery, by extraction of the essence. The unripe fruit which drops off the tree is known as “arancella”. It is grey-green in colour, because scorched by the sun, and is used to produce liqueurs and for extraction of an essence called either “Neroli” or “Nero di Bergamot”. However, the most important novelty to be found nowadays is the use of the fruit straight from the tree to prepare freshly squeezed Bergamot juice. The recent discovery, supported by scientific research, of certain properties in the fruit which act to combat cholesterol and lower blood sugar levels, has further helped to increase the popularity of the Bergamot.