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Is it a mandarin orange? a tangerine? a clementine?

Is it a mandarin orange? a tangerine? a clementine?

Why so many names for what it appears to be the same fruit? Is it a mandarin orange, a tangerine, a clementine, a satsuma?

Actually all of these fruits are from the mandarin orange family tree. They all have a loose and thin peel, which makes them easier to peel. The segments also separate easily from each other. The more highly colored red-orange skinned ones are tangerines. To add to the variety, there are also hybrids such as tangelos (a mix of mandarin and grapefruit) and tangors (a mix of mandarin and sweet orange).

We have the Chinese and Japanese to thank for the mandarin orange. We're fortunate in the United State to have warm enough climate in Florida, Texas, and California in which to grow them. The clementine harvest comes in late fall through early spring, making them a great Christmas treat. Satsumas ripen first and start appearing in markets in early fall.

When selecting the fruit, choose fruit that is heavy for its size. While satsumas have naturally loose skin, other varieties of mandarins are not puffy like that. It means they're overripe.


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