What is the Difference Between Tangerines & Clementines?

By: The Hale Groves Team | On: | Category: Fruit Facts

Are clementines tangerines? Are tangerines oranges? With over 160 varieties and hybrids of mandarins, it’s no wonder people get confused. In fact, the terms mandarin and tangerine are used interchangeably throughout the USA, even though they’re not the same. Tangerines and clementines aren’t the same fruit, either, but they are practically first cousins – they are both hybrids of the small-sized mandarin.

What Exactly is a Mandarin?

The mandarin is one of the original citrus species (along with the citron and pomelo) that, through breeding or natural hybridization, serves as the ancestor of many hybrid citrus cultivars. Mandarins botanically refer to three classifications of oranges: satsumas, tangerines and miscellaneous hybrids. The mandarin tangerine is the most popular mandarin variety.

How to Tell a Tangerine and Clementine Apart.

Tangerines and clementines are the second largest cultivated group of citrus fruit after sweet oranges (which include larger sized varieties like navel and blood oranges). Both tangerines and clementines are sweet and easy to peel. Clementines look similar to tangerines, but they’re a little smaller, and their skins are brighter, shinier and smoother. Clementines are slightly more oval in shape than tangerines and have a flat spot on the top and bottom. They’re even sweeter in flavor. You may see them in the store, where they’re packaged as Cuties or Haloes, but these are marketing names – they are still clementine oranges. Their growing season is the same as that of a tangerine.

Are there Different Types of Tangerines?

There are several different types of tangerines, including a number of hybrid varieties. Clementines, though a different fruit, are often categorized as seedless tangerines along with satsumas or mini tangerines. These seedless varieties also include kishu mikan, a hybrid variety grown in Southern China and Japan that are also known as tiny tangerines.

Apart from clementines, popular tangerine hybrids include

  • tangelos (a cross between a tangerine and a pomelo)
  • temples (a cross between a tangerine and sweet oranges).

Each type of tangerine is unique and delicious in its own way.

Are Tangerines Healthy?

There are many benefits of eating tangerines. Like all mandarin varieties, tangerines are small and easy to peel, making them great for snacking and in lunchboxes and salads. This in turn makes them an easy and delicious way to add certain nutrients to your diet!

Do tangerines have vitamin C? Not as much as an orange does, but they’re still a good source with 44% of the daily value (as opposed to an orange’s 89%). In determining the nutritional value of tangerines, however, there’s even more to take into account when answering the question, “Are tangerines good for you?” Tangerines contain more vitamin A than oranges, and are a good source of fiber, folate and potassium.

How to Store Tangerines

If you are wondering when are tangerines in season, that may vary according to the variety, but the tangerine growing season is roughly late October through January. In determining how long do tangerines last, that will depend on when a tangerine has been picked – the freshest tangerines will last about a week when stored at room temperature (so long as the weather isn’t too hot). Storing tangerines in the refrigerator will make them last longer – up to two weeks, in fact. If you want to extend the shelf life your tangerines longer than that, you can freeze them for up to a year, or even can them….canned tangerines are great as a snack or in many recipes.

What Are Tangerines Good For?

Got more tasty tangerines than you can gobble or store? Tangerines go great in so many recipes! Use them up in a moist citrus cake or sweet pudding or refreshing sorbet (be sure to reserve the peels to make zest for marinades, rice and fish dishes).

You can also create an all-natural, homemade detergent using tangerines and vinegar – most detergents contain extracts from citrus fruits, which are natural cleaning agents and great at removing odors. Tangerines are also great for your skin, so while you’re at it make some homemade skincare products!

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