Thursday, February 22, 2018

Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Tangerines…But Were Afraid to Ask

Tangerines are technically mandarin oranges!


What is a tangerine?

This seemingly simple question does not have a simple answer! Scientifically speaking, “tangerine” is an inexact word. Generally, though, when we talk about tangerines, we’re talking about a fruit that is smaller than an orange, flatter at the top and bottom, and more reddish-orange in color.

Tangerines are usually sweeter than oranges, and their flavor is often considered richer, deeper, and stronger. They’re enjoyable to eat in part due to their thin, easy-peeling skin.

Botanically speaking, tangerines are a type of mandarin orange. Mandarin oranges originated in China (hence the name), while the fruit we now call tangerines first arrived in Europe in the 1800s. They were exported through the city of Tangiers in Morocco, which lent them their name. Tangerines were first grown in the United States near Palatka, Florida.

By the way, just to add to the tangerine confusion, growers and sellers may call various tangerine-orange or tangerine-orange-grapefruit hybrids “tangerines.”

What are some common tangerine varieties?

The Dancy tangerine used to be the main tangerine in the US, but it’s given way to the honey tangerine (technically a tangerine-orange hybrid), various types of Murcott, the Fallglo, and the Sunburst.

Here at Florida Fruit Shippers, we sell three varieties of tangerines: the honey tangerine, a super-sweet little ball of honey sweetness, the Fallglo, a big, richly flavorful fruit, and the Robinson, a juicy, heritage variety that reminds us of the Page, one of the best eating fruit out there.

With a richer flavor and deep orange, tangerine juice is some of the best citrus juice out there.

What makes tangerines special?

Tangerines sometimes get just a little overshadowed by their bigger and more familiar cousin the orange, but that’s definitely a mistake. Their flavor is often considered richer than oranges by those in the know. Not only are they a great snack due to their smaller size, they actually make some of the best citrus juice out there. The color of tangerine juice is absolutely incredible—a deep, intense orange that leaves the paler hue of regular OJ looking anemic by comparison. If you haven’t tried it, you need to.

When it comes to cooking, some examples of delicious tangerine recipes include Tangerine Beef, Rosemary-Tangerine Roasted Chicken, Spinach Salad with Honey-Tangerine Dressing, Tangerine Drizzle Cake, and Tangerine Pudding. Or why not try a tangy Tangerine Margarita?

What’s the difference between a tangerine and a clementine and a Cutie and a…?

Now this is another confusing topic. Tangerines, clementines, Cuties, and the other small citrus fruit you may have seen at your grocery store in bags or crates are all technically mandarin oranges. But did you know that Pixie, Cutie, Halo, and other similar new names are not actually fruit varieties? They are brand names. The small, seedless fruits you see marketed under these names may be clementines, Murcott mandarins, Tangos, or yet another kind of seedless mandarin, depending on the time of year.

Tangerines, clementines, Cuties, etc. are all technically mandarin oranges. 

Frankly, while these little “brand name” citrus are cute, their quality can be unpredictable. Sometimes they may be great; other times they can be dry, bland, or have off flavors. Why? Well, some of the varieties they use just taste better than others. Depending on the time of year, the fruit may also have experienced long shipping and storage times (some are grown outside the United States).

The tangerines we sell here at Florida Fruit Shippers are bigger than these “mini” mandarins. And it’s true that they will have some seeds. However, we think they are juicier, more deeply flavorful, and, of course, reliably fresh and sweet. Give them a try.



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