What’s the Difference Between Tangerines and Tangelos?

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

Some of us look forward to the time of year when tangelos are in season with a passion that just may border on fanatical. But who can blame us? With a zesty fragrance and a sweet-and-tangy flavor that bursts over your tastes buds the moment you bite into it, these juicy, bell-shaped beauties are citrus perfection – virtually seedless, easy to peel, and amazingly snackable!

Can it be possible that you’ve never tasted a tangelo? If so, you’re in for a treat! Allow us to introduce you to this increasingly popular citrus hybrid.

A Tangelo by Any Other Name

The similarity of the name “tangelo” to “tangerine” is no mistake – tangelo oranges are a cross between a Dancy tangerine and a Duncan grapefruit (the “lo” part of “tangelo” comes from “pomelo,” the fruit from which grapefruit originated). They’re also known as Minneola Oranges and Honeybells.

Tangerine Fruit vs. Tangelos: What’s the Difference?

Tangelos have a couple of things in common with tangerines. Their peels are a rich, reddish-orange in color, for one thing; for another, they both have easy-to-peel “zipper” skins, which makes them great take-along fruits.

The mandarin tangerine is about half the size of your average tangelo. The two fruits are also very different when it comes to shape – like a clementine, tangerines are round and slightly squashy. The tangelo has a rather unique characteristic – a kind of knob at the stem end of the fruit that gives it something of a bell shape. What’s part of what contributes to the tangelo’s other name, the “honeybell.” The “honey” part of the name probably comes from “Honey Tangerine” – tangerine types are lower in acid than other citrus fruits, giving them a sweeter flavor than, say, the Classic Navel Orange.

Tangelos retain some of the tangerine’s honey-sweetness, but the grapefruit in their genetic makeup adds a wonderful tang that gives tangelo fruit its unique flavor. Some people who prefer the slightly tangier flavor or a Washington navel orange over a tangerine may find they love tangelos, which combine the sweet-tangy flavor of navels with the easy-to-peel quality of a tangerine. (Tangelos can be a bit less lunchbox-friendly than tangelos because their juiciness makes them a bit messier to peel and eat, but the flavor is worth it!)

If They’re So Great, Why Haven’t You Seen Tangelos in Stores?

Here’s the sad news about tangelos – they have a shorter harvest season than tangerines. One to two months, tops, and that’s it for another year. Boo! The good news, though, is that different varieties are available at different times, so you might be able to stretch out your total tangelo season from January to March – if you know where to look for them!

Where to Buy Tangerines and Tangelos

With a short harvest season, tangelos tend to go fast, and not all the varieties may come to a store near you. Luckily, you can get citrus fruit (including the tangerine) online! Hale Groves Honeybells (available in January) are always a best-seller), while popular Hale Groves Sugar Belles (a variety of tangelo) come out in time for the holidays, making them a great tangerine gift for citrus fans. Hale Groves Golden Belles (a tangelo variety) are available in March, and you’ll only find them on our website.

But if tangelo season is over, don’t despair – varieties of other tangerine gifts are available for the spring holidays! And of course, all our fruit comes with the Hale Groves Guarantee.

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