During winter months these easy-to-peel little oranges arrive at our local markets.  Here’s everything you need to know about Mandarins, like what’s the difference between Mandarin oranges and oranges. Did you know that tangerines, satsuma oranges and clementine oranges are all members of the Mandarin orange family? Plus some recipes below to help you incorporate more of this perky citrus fruit into your daily wellness plan.

A brown colander filled with mandarin oranges with their green leaves attached.

Mandarins are tender, juicy and sweet. They look like a small orange and they’re loaded with nutrients. 

A brown colander filled with mandarin oranges with their green leaves attached. A peeled mandarin orange sits next to the colander.

What Are Mandarin Oranges

Mandarin Oranges (Citrus reticulata) are native to China. It’s believed the fruit was then introduced to Europe via Tangiers, Morocco, which is where the name “tangerine” comes from. They are a class of oranges with a loose and easy-to-peel skin. The segments of the mandarin also separate much easier than an orange. 

Mandarin Orange Varieties

There are up to 200 of varieties of mandarins in the world. Tangerines, satsuma oranges and clementine oranges are common varieties of the Mandarin orange family.

  • Clementine Oranges – These are usually a seedless fruit and the membranes covering the segments are thinner than other tangerines. They’re a hybrid of mandarins and sweet oranges.  They’re usually sweeter but less aromatic than Mandarins. Clementine oranges are also referred to as Algerian tangerines. They’re the smallest and often sold under the brand name “Cuties” and “Halos”. (1)
  • Satsuma Orange – This is another subgroup of mandarins that originated in Japan. They’re sweet and juicy and have little-to-no seeds.
  • Tangerines – This is the most common subgroup of the mandarin orange in the United States. It has a rough peel and sweet tangy flesh. It’s less sour and has a stronger flavor than other oranges.

A brown colander filled with citrus fruit with their green leaves attached.

Mandarin vs Orange

Mandarins are a different species from oranges. They are smaller and a little flatter than oranges. Their skin is thinner, more loose and they’re much easier to peel than an orange.  Where there’s 200 varieties of mandarins grown in the world, there’s up to 400 varieties of oranges grown around the world.

Canned Mandarin Oranges

Canned mandarin oranges are typically used to add to salads, fruit cups and desserts. They are often packed in a sugary syrup, so they’re not as healthy as eating fresh fruit. 

A brown colander filled with citrus fruit with their green leaves attached.

When are Mandarins in Season

In North America, mandarin oranges ripen to their sweetest during the winter months (mid-November to early February).

Choosing the Best

Mandarin oranges will feel soft and puffy compared to oranges because of their loose-fitting skins. Choose mandarins that are evenly shaped and feel heavy for their size, otherwise they are likely to be pithy and dry on the inside. Heavy mandarins are usually the juiciest. Disregard any fruit with cracks, bruising or green patches near the stems.

How to Store Them

  • When left on the kitchen counter at room temperature, the fruit will only last about one week.
  • It’s best to refrigerate the unpeeled fruit in the refrigerator where they will last for 4-6 weeks.
  • You can also refrigerate the peeled fruit in an air-tight container where it will last for up to 2 weeks.
  • If you want to freeze the fruit, first peel it and place the individual segments on a cookie sheet and freeze them for about one hour. Then transfer the frozen segments to a freezer bag. The frozen segments will last for up to 6 months stored in the freezer. These are great to add to smoothies!

A brown colander filled with clementine oranges with their green leaves attached. A peeled clementine orange sits next to the colander.

Can I Juice Them

You sure can! For the sweetest juice, use all satsumas, or add other oranges for a perfect blend. A Mandarin orange will yield about 1/4 cup of juice, which is about half of what you’d get from juicing an orange.

Mandarin Orange Nutrition

This nutritional profile is for 1 medium size Mandarin orange.

  • Calories:  47
  • Protein: 0.7 grams
  • Carbohydrate: 12
  • Dietary Fiber: 2 grams
  • Vitamin c: 26% of the DV (Daily Value)
  • Vitamin A: 3% of the DV
  • Potassium: 3% of the DV 
  • Magnesium: 2.5% of the DV 
  • Copper: 4% of the DV 
  • Iron: 1% of the DV 

Health Benefits

Regular consumption of orange may provide many health benefits.

Citrus in general is renowned for their concentration of vitamin C.  One of the roles of vitamin C is to protect cells by neutralizing free radicals. Vitamin c is also important for proper immune function, wound healing and healthy skin.  Mandarins also provide potassium, an electrolyte mineral responsible for normal heart function. Potassium works together with calcium, magnesium and sodium, to  maintain optimal fluid levels in our cells. They are are also rich in vitamin A, which help to protect your eyes. Carotenoid compounds of vitamin A, like lutein, beta carotene and zeaxanthin, can help prevent age-related macular degeneration (a leading cause of blindness). (2)(3)(4)

A brown colander filled with satsuma oranges with their green leaves attached. A peeled satsuma orange sits next to the colander.

Recipes with Oranges

You can easily swap out any of the oranges used in these recipes and use Mandarin orange instead.

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