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Tangerines: Kitchen Basics


Tangerines are among the earliest harvested mandarin oranges.

They are distinguished from other mandarins simply by their red-orange to red peels. They have a rough skin and sweet flesh.

All tangerines are mandarins but not all mandarins are tangerines. (Other mandarins are the tangelo and the clementine.)

The tangerine is named for the port city of Tangier in Morocco. Before the tangerine was widely cultivated in the United States, the main point of departure for tangerine exports to the U.S. was Tangier. Tangerine means a native of Tangier.

Dancy is the oldest variety of tangerine grown in the United States. It got its name from Colonel G.L Dancy of Buena Vista, Florida who introduced it into cultivation in Florida in about 1871. The first Dancy seedling was said to have arrived in Florida from Morocco in 1867.

Dancy is the traditional Christmas tangerine often found in Christmas stockings and gift boxes. It has a deep orange color and a rich sprightly flavor. It is smaller than other mandarins—about 2-3 inches (5-7.5 cm) wide and 1½-2⅛ inches (3.8-6.2 cm) tall.

Dancy has a thin, leathery skin but peels easily. It has dark-orange flesh and divides into 10-14 segments with 6-20 small seeds.

Other tangerine varieties are Sunburst, Page and Pixie.

Sunburst is a hybrid between a clementine and a ‘Orlando’ tangelo created in 1967. It is predominately a tangerine. Sunburst is about the same size as the Dancy with an orange to scarlet peel. It has about the same number of segments and seeds as a Dancy but much more colorful juice although it is not quite as flavorful as the Dancy.

Page is a cross between a clementine and ‘Minneola’ tangelo. Page is small, sweet and juicy with few seeds. It has a deep orange rind that can be tough to peel. Page ripens from November through January.

Pixie is a hybrid offspring of Dancy with a mild, sweet flavor and a seedless fruit. Pixie has a medium-orange flesh with yellow-orange rind and is easy-to-peel. Pixie ripens late and holds well on the tree well into summer.

Choose. Select a tangerine that is plump and fills its skin. A tangerine that feels heavy for its size will be filled with juice. Avoid tangerines that are that feel hollow or soft or look like they’ve been bumped or dented.

Store. Tangerines will keep for 1 week in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Serve. Tangerines are best for simply eating out of hand. Add tangerine segments to a spinach salad. For a tasty dessert dip segments in chocolate sauce, caramel sauce or a flavored yogurt. Tangerine juice can be used in sauces, dressing, sorbet, and marinades.

Nutrition. High in vitamin C and contains about 45 calories.

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Mandarin Orange and Tangerine Varieties

Farm Market Fresh: Mid-January