What’s the difference between Tangerines and Mandarins?
There they are among the citrus fruits in the produce section…they’re small, round, orange, and fragrant. They’re tangerines! Wait…they’re mandarins. Which are they?! Just what is the difference between a tangerine and a mandarin?
Tangerine vs. Mandarin
Technically, a tangerine orange is a mandarin orange. But while all tangerines are mandarins, not all mandarins are tangerines.
The mandarin is one of the original citrus species 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. So technically, a tangerine is a mandarin orange. The mandarin tangerine is the most popular variety of mandarin.
Like the mandarin, tangerines have seeds. Tangerines do have a longer growing season, however (lasting from November through May).
Tangerine vs. Orange
Tangerine fruit are smaller and sweeter than oranges, yet larger and tarter than mandarins. Oranges are more acidic because of their larger size, and the skin of oranges is also much thicker and harder to peel. Like all mandarin varieties, tangerines are easy to peel, making them great for snacking and in lunchboxes and salads. A tangerine’s skin tends to be shiny and darker than that of an orange, with a distinct red-orange hue.
When determining how many calories in a tangerine versus the number of calories in an orange, the volume must be taken into account. In a whole tangerine, calories come out to about 50, which is less than that of a whole orange (which is about 70 calories) because oranges tend to be larger than tangerines. The number of calories in a cup of orange slices is roughly the same as those in a cup of tangerine slices.
As far as nutrition is concerned, tangerines contain more vitamin A than oranges, though oranges are lower in calories and higher in vitamin C and fiber. They are both good sources of vitamins and minerals, including thiamin, folate and potassium.
Tangerine vs. Clementine
The clementine is another variety of mandarin. Like the tangerine, it’s a sweet, easy to peel citrus fruit. It looks very similar to a tangerine, but is slightly smaller, with a brighter, shiner and smoother skin. 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. The growing season is the same as that of a tangerine.
Tangerines, mandarins and other citrus varieties make great gifts – particularly the more obscure varieties! Since the holiday season is a great time to try new and exotic foods, consider sending a new variety of citrus to a loved one this year.