The mandarin, tangelo and tangerine are all varieties of the Citrus family, closely resembling the orange.
Mandarins originated from southern China where they were cultivated for more than 3,000 years. They were initially pursued for their fragrance and reserved for royalty and the wealthy. Mandarins are usually eaten raw and they make a convenient snack food as they peel easily and can be broken into pieces without needing a knife. There is a large variety of mandarin including Imperial, Hicksons, Taylor-Lee, Fremont, Ellendale, Emperor, Afourer, and Clementine (also known as seedless tangerines).
Tangelos are a cross between a mandarin and a grapefruit. The first recorded example of a tangelo tree was grown in the late 19th century in the United States. The fruit looks and peels like a mandarin but has slightly more acid tartness thanks to the grapefruit. Mineolas are the key variety of tangelo grown in Australia. They are tasty fresh as well as in marmalade and cordial.
Tangerines also originated in China. They are smaller than an orange and taste sweeter and more intense. They are often considered sweeter than oranges. Honey tangerines, or Honey Murcotts are the most widely grown tangerine. Other varieties include the Sunburst tangerine and the Fallglo. Dried tangerine peel is often used in Sichuan cuisine.
A single mandarin, tangerine or tangelo provides adults with 190% of their daily intake of Vitamin C. As a comparision, apples provide 40% and bananas 33%.
Finely grated zest and juice of these fruits work well in icings and curds, cakes and muffins, great in marmalade and sorbet. Eat the segments fresh or use them in tarts, fruit salads, and savoury dishes.