Unsure of the differences between these small citrus fruits, many people confuse often oranges, mandarins, Tangerines, Clementines, and Satsumas. In fact, throughout the United States, the terms mandarin and tangerine are used interchangeably, even though they are not the same thing. While a tangerine is a type of mandarin, not all mandarins are tangerines.
But the confusion isn’t really a surprise, as the Citrus Variety Collection of the University of California has 167 different hybrids and varieties of mandarins listed.
Here’s a breakdown of the differences between these popular and delicious citrus fruits:
- Oranges are second in size to the grapefruit. This citrus fruit has a thick skin, is round in shape, and has a tart flavor.
- Mandarins are a type of orange and the overarching category that Tangerines, Clementines, and Satsumas fall into. They are generally smaller and sweeter than oranges, a little flatter in shape, and they and have a thinner, looser skin that makes them easier to peel.
- Tangerines are a specific type of mandarin orange. They are a bright orange color, slightly tougher skins, and their flavor is a little less sweet and a bit more tart.
- Clementines are the smallest type of mandarin orange. They are super sweet, seedless, and have red-orange skins that are smooth and shiny. The mandarins you see in grocery stores called Cuties and Sweeties are Clementines. They are easier to peel than tangerines, but not as easy to peel as Satsumas.
- Satsuma Mandarins are a specific type of mandarin orange, originating in Japan more than 700 years ago. They are a lighter orange, sweet, juicy, and seedless. They are also the easiest variety to peel. The most tender, easily damaged type of mandarin, Satsuma mandarin oranges are harder to find fresh in stores.
At S & J Mandarin Grove, we primarily grow and ship certified organic Owari Satsuma Mandarins.
We also have a small number of super sweet Clementine mandarin trees that ripen later in the season. We only sell this small variety at our Newcastle, California orchard and at the Sacramento Certified Farmers’ Market. Come visit us.