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I took this photo of a tangerine from the tree...

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It may be apparent at first glance that oranges and tangerines are very similar specimens. After all, both are orange or red in color, have a peel, offer similar flavors, and serve up nearly identical nutritional values.

 Nevertheless, there are several ways in which they are different, and those differences are easy to spot by keeping in mind just a few easy facts about each fruit. Here are some ways to distinguish the orange from the tangerine.

Size: Oranges are larger than their tangerine counterparts. No matter which variety you're eating, tangerines are nearly always going to smaller than an orange of standard size, and this is actually part of their appeal.

Due to their size, many prefer the tangerine to larger oranges when it comes to small sections of fruit used in desserts, salads, and other culinary endeavors. Many also consider small tangerines more manageable for quick snacks as an orange is sometimes a chore to finish in just one sitting.

Sweetness: Tangerines tend to be sweeter than larger oranges. While lighter due to their size, a tangerine is likely to be more dense than an orange when it comes to the juice inside. This is another reason why it's so popular for snacking.

Ease of eating: Many tangerine varieties are simple to peel compared to most kinds of oranges. Satsuma and clementine tangerines, in particular, are known for being easy to peel. Furthermore, a number of popular tangerine varieties offer seedless fruit. Some oranges--naval oranges, for example--are also seedless, but seedless varieties of the tangerine are more readily available in some places.

Cultivation: When it comes to actually growing oranges and tangerines the tangerines tend to be more cold-hardy. This is significant because it affects where and when they are grown, and it's one of the biggest reasons why tangerines are so widely-consumed during the winter months in the United States. Tangerines, for instance, are grown not only in Florida, which is known for its orange production, but also in parts of northern California.

Although these are not the only differences between oranges and tangerines, they are some of the most significant. Both citrus fruits are popular for use in the same dishes and, in many cases, are grown in the same parts of the world. Even so, the differences between each type of fruit have a profound effect on why people buy them, when they are available, and how they can be used in culinary applications.
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