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How to Know If You're Eating a Tangerine, Clementine, or Mandarin

Tangerines, clementines, and mandarines are similar. There are differences though! Find out how to tell them apart: tangerine vs. clementine vs. mandarin.

When you see a fruit that's round and orange, you'd usually assume it's an orange. And you'd be correct! But there's more to these citrus fruits than just their color, and there are a lot of smaller categories within the orange family.

So how can you tell the difference? How should you know whether to buy a tangerine vs. clementine vs. mandarin? Read on to learn more about how these fruits differ and which one is right for you.

The Tangerine

The tangerine is one of the most popular varieties of oranges. They even have anti-aging properties! The skin on a tangerine is a bright, vibrant orange (hence its name: TAN-gerine.) 

Tangerines are also known to have thinner skin, which makes them harder to peel. That same skin is also pebbly or rough on the outside, rather than smooth. 

In terms of taste, tangerines are not as sweet as some other orange varieties. In fact, they're known for their tart flavor.

Additionally, tangerines are seedless (or at least very close to seedless), making them easy to eat. 

The Clementine

The clementine is the smallest variety of orange and often regarded as the cutest (hence the brand name Cuties.) They're usually a bit more oval-shaped than other oranges, almost like they've been squashed down just a tad.

The skin on clementines is super easy to peel and smooth to the touch, making it a great lunchtime snack or breakfast on-the-go. Clementines are also seedless!

In terms of taste, clementines are famous for being very sweet. For some people, this sweetness is a refreshing taste in comparison to the tartness of other orange varieties.

The Mandarin

Mandarins are a specific type of orange. In fact, they're a category that includes several different orange varieties, including both tangerines and clementines! 

That's right: if you're eating a tangerine or a clementine, you're eating a mandarin. (But eating a mandarin doesn't automatically mean you're eating a tangerine or clementine.)

Another popular variety of mandarin is the satsuma mandarin, which is usually lighter in color, very juicy, easy to peel, and seedless. But satsuma mandarins are also a lot easier to damage, so it's hard to get them in the store without bruising.

Tangerine vs. Clementine

So what about comparing just tangerines and clementines? Well, there are plenty of simple differences that can help you differentiate the citrus fruits.

First of all, take a look at the skin. On a tangerine, you'll find bumpy, rough skin. On a clementine, the skin will be smooth and soft. 

Also, consider the skin color of the fruit. Tangerines will be a brighter orange than clementines. 

Finally, give them both a taste. You'll find the tangerine to be more tart, while the clementine is quite sweet. 

Which Should You Choose?

When comparing tangerines, clementines, and mandarin oranges, you really can't go wrong. They're all delicious orange citrus fruit that are perfect for snacking. They even have similar sugar content!

If you want to have delicious, seasonal citrus fruit right away, join the Craft Citrus Club!

Get a curated box of fresh-harvested citrus fruit from South Texas sent to your door every month!