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Tangerine Dream Chile Peppers
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Tangerine Dream chile peppers are short, somewhat uniform pods, averaging 7 to 8 centimeters in length and 2 to 3 centimeters in diameter, and have a conical shape that tapers to a point on the non-stem end. The skin is smooth, waxy, and shiny, ripening from green to bright orange when mature. Underneath the surface, the medium-thick flesh is crisp and pale orange, encasing a central cavity filled with a few membranes and small, round, and flat cream-colored seeds. Tangerine Dream chile peppers have a sweet, citrus-forward flavor, and depending on growing conditions, the pepper may contain zero heat to a mild level of spice.
Tangerine Dream chile peppers are available in the mid-summer through fall.
Tangerine Dream chile peppers, botanically classified as Capsicum annuum, are an edible, ornamental cultivar that belongs to the Solanaceae or nightshade family. The bright orange peppers have an attractive aesthetic, growing upright on a compact, bushy plant, and unlike most spicy ornamental pepper varieties, Tangerine Dream chile peppers only contain a mild heat with a sweet flavor. Tangerine Dream chile peppers are a cross between a hybrid sweet bell pepper and a sweet squash-type pepper, and it took approximately twelve generations of growth and selective breeding to develop the variety that is available today. Tangerine Dream chile peppers are often sold for edible landscaping, flower beds, or for use as an indoor potted plant. In addition to having the ideal qualities of an ornamental pepper, like drought tolerance, Tangerine Dream chile peppers were bred with the home chef in mind. The orange peppers range 0-100 SHU on the Scoville scale and have a sweet flavor mixed with a crisp consistency, allowing the peppers to be used fresh or cooked in a wide variety of culinary applications.
Tangerine Dream chile peppers are an excellent source of vitamins A and C, folate, and dietary fiber, which can help regulate the digestive tract. The peppers also contain vitamin K, some B-complex vitamins, potassium, and the minerals manganese, copper, magnesium, and iron.
Tangerine Dream chile peppers are best suited for both raw and cooked applications such as roasting, stir-frying, grilling, and baking. The peppers can be tossed fresh into salads, chopped into salsas, consumed out-of-hand as a snack, or blended into gazpacho. They can also be incorporated into sauces and marinades with spicier chiles for a sweet and spicy flavor. In addition to fresh preparations, Tangerine Dream chile peppers can be stuffed with meats or cheese and fried, grilled for a smoky, sweet flavor, layered onto sandwiches, stir-fried into noodle and rice dishes, roasted and mixed into pasta, or sautéed into pepperonata to be served with cooked meats. The peppers can also be pickled for a tangy-sweet condiment. Tangerine Dream chile peppers pair well with meats such as sausage, beef, poultry, and fish, citrus, garlic, onions, tomatoes, potatoes, and herbs such as oregano, rosemary, and basil. The fresh peppers will keep up to one week when stored whole and unwashed in a paper or plastic bag in the refrigerator.
Tangerine Dream chile peppers were developed as a sweet and edible ornamental pepper, and they are commonly planted along edges and borders in home gardens to add bright color and texture. During the holiday season, ornamental chile pepper plants such as the Tangerine Dream are also labeled as Christmas peppers, which are varieties that can be grown indoors and given as gifts. Using peppers as household decorations date back to ancient times in South America, and the edible décor also spread to Europe when peppers became a widely cultivated crop. Especially popular in Europe in the 20th century, ornamental peppers were a favored plant to add color and also provide an edible source of vitamins and minerals during the bleak winter season. In the modern-day, Tangerine Dream chile peppers are often sold alongside poinsettias at local garden centers for the holidays. Outside of the holiday season, the variety is reserved for home gardens.
Tangerine Dream chile peppers were developed through a partnership between Bonnie Plants, the Burpee Seed Company, and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). The peppers were first introduced and released in 2004 and are sold as part of the “foodie fresh” line through Burpee and Bonnie Plants, which is a line marketed towards home gardeners who enjoy unusual and quality flavors for home cooking. Today Tangerine Dream chile peppers are not available commercially in grocery stores and are primarily found through seed catalogs for home garden use. The peppers may also be found at local farmer’s markets and sold during the holidays at specialty plant shops.