Going Mad for Mandarin Oranges

Happy National Nutrition Month!! I can’t decide if it was the 5 years I studied nutrition or the batch of white chocolate chip cookies I made at midnight last night (and subsequently ate four of) that has me really excited for an over-the-top healthy month. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics has proclaimed the slogan of this month, “savor the flavor of eating right”. What does that mean? Well for the next two weeks here on the blog it’s going to mean EAT ALL THE MANDARIN ORANGES!

These sweet little juice bombs are a gift from nature, and we’re about to give them the appreciation they deserve. Read on for all the juicy deets you need to know about mandarins, and stick around for a citrus-wonderland of recipes in the coming days.

So what are mandarin oranges?

Mandarin oranges are a small, loose-skinned variety of the common orange, typically sweeter and less acidic than the larger oranges. Thought to have originated in India, they travelled across China where they picked up the name “mandarin”. They made their way to England and Euro-tripped it down to Italy, eventually making it to the Moroccan port of Tangier, where they garnered another name, “tangerine”.

Close-up photo of a mandarin orange peeled.

Variations of mandarin oranges

Are mandarins and clementines the same thing? In short, sort of! Mandarin oranges are a smaller descendent or the common orange. Because mandarins are easily crossed with other varieties of citrus and can grow in a number of climates, many varieties of mandarins have been created…around 200! Here are the most popular varieties of mandarin oranges:

  • Clementines: This sweet variety is usually seedless and easy to peel, making it great for kids. Brands like “Cuties” or “Sweeties” commonly use clementines (but…fun fact! As different varieties go in and out of season, these brands will swap which kinds of mandarins they include in the packs)
  • Tangerines: Though “tangerine” was originally just another word for the fruit “mandarin”, the term “tangerine” has begun to take on another meaning. What we call tangerines in the U.S. are commonly more tart and have a deeper orange/red color than the common mandarin. Varieties of tangerine include Darby and Fairchild.
  • Satsuma: This is a seedless variety originating in Japan. The tree is more tolerant to cold, so you’ll find these in colder climates. This variety has a thick but delicate skin, meaning it’s quick to peel but bruises easily, making it great for either eating locally or canning for shipment.
What are mandarin oranges?

How to select and store mandarin oranges

  • Select: You’ll find a variety of mandarins are in season from November to April. Choose fruits that are heavy for their size and unblemished.
  • Store: Store mandarins in a cool, dark place (like the fridge). At room temperature they’ll last about 1 week. Refrigerated in a bag they should last 2 weeks to 1 month.

Mandarin Orange Recipes

Nutrition information for mandarin oranges

per 1 large (120 g) mandarin orange

  • Calories: 64
  • Carbohydrates: 16 g
  • Fiber: 2 g, 9% of Daily Value (DV)
  • Protein: 1 g
  • Fat: 0 g
  • 53% DV of Vitamin C: A water-soluble vitamin that acts as an antioxidant to fight against potentially damaging free radicals (molecules with unshared electrons that float around wreaking havoc) and an important cofactor in collagen synthesis.
  • 16% DV of Vitamin A: Provides the provitamin version of this fat-soluble vitamin, meaning it comes from a plant source and your body converts the plant pigment into active Vitamin A. It is essential in many components of healthy vision, as well as immunity and cell growth/differentiation.
  • 6% DV of Potassium: A key mineral and electrolyte involved in countless processes, including healthy nervous system functioning and contraction of the heart and muscles.
Close-up photo of a mandarin orange peeled.


What are mandarin oranges?

Comments (14)

  1. Kate says:

    What a great post! I’ve eaten hundreds of these little beauties over the years, but now I know so much more about them!

  2. Jill says:

    We love oranges in our household. Generally I section what our grocery calls “lunchbox oranges” (5 for a $1) for my daughter’s lunch. I keep the peel on. I’ll show this video to her – I’m sure she’ll want to try this way of sectioning an orange 🙂

    1. Sarah says:

      My family ALWAYS had them when they were in season too! They’re such a healthy snack to have sitting out 🙂

  3. Love oranges, especially clementines! We have been buying them by the boxes too recently at our local market – excited to learn so many things about them and also to see what recipes you have in store!

    1. Sarah says:

      I think if I didn’t buy them by the boxes I’d be going to the store for more every other day!

  4. My son loves mandarin oranges! I love this informational post and can’t wait to show him the video!

  5. Kristen says:

    these are so pretty! We love oranges, and I love putting the smell after I put the orange peels down the garbage disposal.

    1. Sarah says:

      Oh that’s a great idea! Unfortunately garbage disposals aren’t so common here in Europe. But I’ve heard that boiling the peel also smells mighty nice!

  6. I had no idea that tangerines, clementines and satsumas were all a kind of mandarin! I must admit until recently if it was round and orange I just called it an orange regardless of its size. I love all kinds of oranges, mandarins or otherwise so I really should take the time to find out more about them. Great post!

    1. Sarah says:

      I didn’t know either until I started looking into them more! So I figured there was no way I could included ALL oranges in this ingredient spotlight…there are so many things to learn about mandarins alone!

  7. Aubrey says:


    1. Sarah says:

      Thanks for asking, Aubrey. Yes they are. Feel free to email me at [email protected] to discuss licensing.

  8. Ralph says:

    How many pounds of Mandarin Oranges are needed to feed 22 people giving them 4 ounces each?

    1. Sarah says:

      That’s a whole lot of mandarin oranges! Looks like you’ll need 5.5 lbs 🙂

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