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Tangerines: Kitchen Basics


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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.

Four tangerines to try


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.


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.

How to choose a tangerine

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.

How to store a tangerine

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

How to serve tangerines

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.

Tangerines are high in vitamin C and contains about 45 calories.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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