Tangerine, tangelo, and tangor

Other Names: Tangerine: Mandarin orange.

General Description: Tangerines (¬_Citrus reticulate_) are a group of flattened, sweet, orange-colored citrus fruits with loose, easily peeled skin and sweet-tart, juicy flesh. Called mandarins in England and, later, tangerines in the U.S., these fruits were first cultivated in China thousands of years ago.

Their Latin name, reticulata, meaning “netted,” refers to the fibrous strands of pith under the loose rind. Tangerines are distinguished by their zipper skin—meaning that you can easily separate the skin from the fruit. They are smaller than oranges, flattened in shape (except for some hybrids), easily separated into segments, and less acidic than oranges. They normally contain more water and less sugar than oranges and are often darker in color. There are many varieties of tangerine, including Dancy, Fairchild, and Sunburst. Satsumas, which were developed in Japan in the 16th century, are sometimes placed in a separate species, Citrus unshiu_. Tangors (Citrus nobilis_) are a cross between tangerines and oranges and tend to be large and similar to oranges in flavor—and include Honey, Honey Murcott, Ortanique, and Temple. Clementines, another member of the tangerine family, are small, thin-peeled, and usually seedless.

Tangelos (Citrus paradisi x Citrus reticulate) are hybrids of grapefruits and tangerines and noted for their juiciness and mildly sweet flavor. Varieties with more tangerine qualities include Minneloa, Orlando, and Honeybell.

Season: Tangerines are in season from winter through early spring. Tangelos are available in the winter, and tangors are generally in season in the winter and spring.

Purchase: When selecting tangerines, look for fruit that fills the skin. Tangerines sold with stems and leaves, found mostly in the winter holiday season, are usually of very high quality. For clementines, look at the top and the stem end and make sure it’s not softened—the skin will seem loose.

Avoid: Hollow-feeling fruits or fruits with soft or dented spots should be avoided.

Storage: Store tangerines for 1 week in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. Clementines deteriorate quickly and should be eaten within 4 or 5 days.


  1. Peel the skin; it should come off easily.
  2. Separate the segments.
  3. To remove any seeds, cut a small slit in the inside of the segment in the center, and squeeze out the seeds through the opening.

Serving Suggestions: Use tangerine juice in sauces, dressings, sorbet, and marinades. Make curd using any standard lemon curd recipe, substituting tangerine juice and zest for lemon, and spread on scones or biscuits or use to fill a fruit tart. Add grated tangerine peel to brownie mix, cheesecake, baked custard, or pastry cream. Dip tangerine segments (seeds removed) in chocolate sauce, caramel sauce, or flavored yogurt.

Flavor Affinities: Apricot, banana, chicken, chocolate, crab, cream, duck, fish, hollandaise sauce, melon, passion fruit, scallops, shrimp, sugar, turkey, vinaigrette.

from Quirk Books: