The zest of a tangerine is a versatile ingredient in cooking and baking. It lends a bright citrus flavor without the bitterness of the pith and prevents waste by utilizing an often overlooked part of the fruit: the skin.
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The zest of a tangerine is the thin, orange layer of the skin. The white fiber located under the zest is known as the pith. While the orange zest has a strong citrus smell and flavor, the pith has no smell and is bitter. The zest is obtained by grating only the orange part of the tangerine's skin with a fine grater, such as a microplane. A vegetable peeler may be used for recipes requiring larger strips of zest.
The concentrated flavor of the tangerine zest can be used in place of extracts in baking. In cooking, zest adds flavor to a savory dish, reducing the amount of salt needed.
Most commercially available tangerines are covered in a food-grade wax. Non-organic citrus fruits, including tangerines, are typically treated with pesticides as well. Thoroughly wash the skin before zesting a tangerine to avoid consuming wax and possible pesticides.