What are Tangerines?
The tangerine is a small citrus fruit that is actually a variety of Mandarin orange. There are many varieties of tangerines or closely related citrus fruits that are often marketed as tangerines. Most varieties of tangerines have a loose skin and are easier to peel than oranges, and some are seedless. Here is a list of some of the common varieties of tangerines and when they are available:
Clementine - the most popular variety of tangerine, it contains very few seeds and has a glossy, dark orange peel. Clementines are often sold with the leaves attached. They are in season from mid-November to January.
Dancy - they have a dark red-orange thin peel, a fairly large number of seeds, and an excellent tart-sweet flavor. They are in season from mid-December to January.
Fairchild - known for their easy to peel “zipper skin,” Fairchild tangerines are one of the earliest varieties, available from mid-October to January.
Honey - also known as Murcott or Honey Mandarin, this variety has a thin skin, many seeds, and is very sweet and juicy. They are in season from January through April.
Minneola Tangelo - this is a cross between a tangerine and a pomelo (a type of grapefruit). Tangelos have a characteristic knob on one end where the stem grows, and a dark orange color. They are in season from January to April.
Royal Mandarin - also known as Temples, these are tangors, a cross between a tangerine and an orange. They are larger than other varieties of tangerines, and their tart-sweet taste is closer to that of an orange. They have very few or no seeds, and are available from mid-January to mid-March.
Satsuma - Satsumas have a lighter colored orange peel and bright orange flesh. They are less acidic than some of the other varieties, and are often sold in cans as Mandarin oranges. They are available from mid-October to the end of December.
How to Choose and Store Tangerines
Tangerines are in season from approximately September through May, depending on the variety, with the peak season in December and January. When buying tangerines, select those that are heavy for their size, with a glossy orange peel. Small patches of green near the stem are acceptable. Avoid those that appear bruised or feel very soft. Tangerines should be stored in a cool place, but not refrigerated.
Adding Tangerines to Your Diet
Tangerines provide many health benefits. They are an excellent source of vitamins A, C and dietary fiber, and they also contain calcium, iron, folic acid, potassium, and vitamins B1, B2 and B6.
Frequently simply peeled and eaten as a snack, tangerines can also be used in many delicious recipes. Some dishes include tangerine duck, tangerine chicken, coleslaw, fruit salads and green salads, many different desserts such as puddings and tarts, and other recipes such as fondues, sauces and glazes for cakes and sweet breads, chutney and salsa. Tangerine juice and zest can be added to soups, and tangerine juice is a tasty and healthy alternative to orange juice.