Tangerines are a variety of citrus fruits and closely related to oranges. They distinguished from oranges by their smaller size, loose, easily peelable skin (pericarp) and more sweeter juicy flesh (arils). They are also known as mandarin oranges in Europe. In Japan, a closely related seedless variety of mandarins known as Unshu mikan or satsuma mandarin grown in abundance in Kagoshima prefecture. Just as in oranges, mandarins also belong to the Rutaceae (Citrus Family) and known scientifically as Citrus reticulata.
Mandarin orange thought to have originated in South-Eastern tropical forests of China. Today, it is widely grown in many parts of the world, as far as California, Philippines (Dalanghita) and South Africa (naartjie in Afrikaans) as an important commercial crop.
|Tangerine (Mandarin). Note for flat, deep orange color well-ripe fruit. Its deciduous leaves feature pointed
Photo courtesy: orphanjones
The tangerine tree is smaller than oranges with slender branches, and deep-green leaves with pointed ends. The fruit is flat, small compared to "Navel" or "Valencia" oranges. Its loose, deep-orange color skin (pericarp) can be peeled rather easily. Inside, it features extensive fibrous pith, which is loosely attached to the inner skin and edible arils. An average-sized fruit has 8-10 juicy segments (arils).
|Tangelos. Note for deep-orange color fruits with a nipple-like knob at the top end. Photo courtesy: Muffet|
Several hybrid varieties of tangerines exist:
Tangelos, also known as honeybells, are a hybrid between tangerine and orange (Citrus sinensis) or grapefruit (Citrus paradisi). Tangelos, like tangerines, have loose skin and juicy sweet flavored segments. They are distinguished from oranges by a characteristic knob at the stem end of the fruit.
Tangors (Citrus nobilis) are a cross between oranges (C. sinensis) and tangerine (C. reticulata). They feature large size, and sweet-tart flavor similar to oranges.
Clementines, another member of the citrus family, are hybrid between a mandarin and sweet oranges. They are smaller, have smooth, glossy skin, and very sweet, juicy, almost seedless segments.
Yuzu fruit or Japanese citrus fruit is a hybrid between C. ichngenesis and mandarin oranges (C. reticulata). They characteristically have intense lime-like fragrance and tart flavor.
As in oranges, Tangerines too are very low (53 calories/100 g) in calories. Nevertheless, they are valuable sources of flavonoid antioxidants like naringenin, naringin, hesperetin, vitamin-A, carotenes, xanthins, and lutein; in fact, many times higher than in the oranges.
Also, the citrus fruits are very rich sources of vitamin-C (ascorbic acid), a water-soluble vitamin. Vitamin-C is one of the powerful natural antioxidant, which play vital role in collagen synthesis, wound healing, antiviral, anti-cancer activity, and help prevent from neuro-degenerative diseases, arthritis, and cold/fever by removing oxidant-free radicals from the body. Vitamin-C helps in the absorption of iron in the food by reducing it from ferrous form to efficiently absorbing ferric form in the gut.
Further, they contain natural soluble and insoluble fiber like hemicellulose, pectin...etc., which prevents cholesterol absorption in the gut. Adequate fiber in the food aids in smooth bowel movements by acting as a laxative.
Citrus fruits, as such, have long been valued for their wholesome nutritious and antioxidant properties. It is a scientifically established fact that citrus fruits, especially oranges, by their richness in vitamins and minerals, have many proven health benefits. Moreover, nutritionists begin to appreciate the benefits of other biologically active, non-nutrient compounds in citrus fruits such as phytochemical antioxidants. Soluble and insoluble dietary fibers play a vital role in the reduction of risk factors for cancers, many chronic diseases like arthritis, and from obesity and coronary heart diseases.
|Principle||Nutrient Value||Percentage of RDA|
|Total Fat||0.31 g||1%|
|Dietary Fiber||1.8 g||5%|
|Pantothenic acid||0.216 mg||4%|
|Vitamin C||26.7 mg||44%|
|Vitamin A||681 IU||23%|
|Vitamin E||0.20 mg||1%|
|Vitamin K||0 µg||0%|
Tangerines are winter season fruits. However, one may find them in supermarkets all round the year; thanks to advanced storage technologies. Buy healthy-looking fruits featuring bright orange color and feel heavy in hand. Avoid fruits with spots, excessively softened or feel “hollow” in hand.
Commercially, citrus fruits are washed and waxed to extend their shelf life, appearance, and market price. They are safe to use, however, choose healthy fruits since often their defects may be disguised by waxing.
Once at home store, store them in a zip pouch and place inside the refrigerator. They keep well for up to a week; however, try to eat as early as possible to enjoy their rich flavor and to get full benefits of nutrients.
Tangerines come with natural peel, which makes their edible arils well preserved from contamination. Just clean with a moist absorbent cloth to remove any surface dirt and wax. Peel the skin with hands, remove pith and separate segments. Seedless Mandarine/ Clementine segments can be readily eaten. Just as in other citrus fruits, squeeze the seeds out after making a small snip on the inner side of the aril at its center. Although it is harmless to eat seeds, their bitter taste makes them inedible.
Here are some Serving tips:
|Candied orange peels. Photo courtesy: grongar|
|Ponzu sauce with grilled mackerel.
Photo courtesy: Rick
As in oranges, tangerines also can be eaten on their own without any additions.
Tangerine juice is a healthy refreshing drink. It employed in syrups, sauces, marinades, concentrations…etc.
Its juicy segments add richness to fruit/green salads.
Tangerine zest imparts distinctive orange flavor to confectionary items such as biscuits, cakes, muffins, pastry cream, ice creams…etc.
Yuzu juice and its zest is an essential ingredient in traditional Japanese cuisines such as ponzu sauce and ponzu shoyu (with soy sauce), with fish as a marinade.
Its skin (pericarp) can be candied as in oranges.
Insecticide sprays applied widely over citrus crops. Therefore, it is recommended to wash the fruits in cold running water before use. Organic fruits are devoid of these chemicals and are best suited for zest preparation. (Medical disclaimer).
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Further reading and Resources:
Stanford School of Medicine Cancer information Page- Nutrition to Reduce Cancer Risk.
JN-The Journal of nutrition- The Hypoglycemic Effects of Hesperidin and Naringin Are Partly Mediated by Hepatic Glucose-Regulating Enzymes in C57BL/KsJ-db/db Mice.