Tangerine Peel: Flavor Profile
Tangerine peel, which is called chenpi or chimpi, is a popular spice used in Chinese medicine and baking. The seasoning is made from the peels of the tangerine fruit, which are sun-dried. The spice has a complex flavor. It’s pleasantly sweet and citrusy yet has a pungent and bitter aftertaste. That makes the herb a revered seasoning for sweet cakes, breads, and chutneys.
The tangerine is a Mandarin cultivar and has a reddish-orange hue. Compared to traditional orange peel, tangerine is slightly sweeter with a stronger citrus tang. A useful spice for traditional Chinese medicine, as well as baking or brewing, the dried peels deliver a taste similar to fresh tangerine zest.
Common Uses for Tangerine Peel
You’ll find many recipes that call for tangerine peel, especially gourmet desserts and savory Asian dishes. The peel also makes an ideal substitute for common orange zest.
One of the most common uses is in brewing. Brewmasters looking for a novel spice for a zesty summer ale or saison turn to dried tangerine peel for that sweet, citrusy flavor. The dried zest keeps many of its oils, which naturally preserve the taste. And dried peels are often easier to work with than fresh.
Tangerine peel also complements almonds, pine nuts and butter well. It’s great in vinaigrette, as well as to liven up breadcrumbs in crab cakes. Sweet baked treats including muffins can also be made with tangerine peel.
Tangerine Peel: History
The tangerine is one of a handful of varietals of Mandarin orange. Originating in India and parts of Asia, this style of mandarin oranges was first spread around the world by Chinese travelers.
In the Mediterranean, tangerines were first introduced in the 1800s. Many of region’s citrus farmers fell in love with the tangerine, because it was so easy to peel. In fact, it was the Mediterranean that gave the varietal the nickname “tangerine.”
The tangerine become very popular throughout the world in the 1800s. The fruit was first introduced in the U.S. in the 1840s, where it thrived in California and Florida. Today, the popular varietal is grown all over the world, although China and Spain are the world’s largest producers. Tangerine peel is also used widely in traditional Chinese medicine. It’s used for its soothing properties.
The trees are quite short. They’re not as tall as common orange trees and grow to about nine feet tall. The fruit grows in small clusters, and it matures to a vibrant orange hue.
The tangerine tree grows smaller and more shrub-like than traditional orange trees, and their fruit is typically smaller and waxier than common oranges. In Florida, tangerines are winter-grown, with the peak season lasting from early September to late March.
About Our Tangerine Peel
Burma Spice works with tangerine growers in South Florida, just down the road from our spice shop. We buy the peels in bulk, and they’re naturally dried. And we use a grinding process for a coarse texture.