What is the difference between a tangerine and a clementine?

Tangerines, clementines, and mandarin oranges — there are quite a few types of orange citrus fruits to choose from, but you might discover that they all look relatively the same. Just as you'll find different types of apples in the produce section, mandarins are no different. This means if you don't pay attention, you could easily go to the store for a tangerine and accidentally come home with a clementine. Though both are hybrids of mandarin oranges, they are actually two different types of fruit (via Eat This). We're about to fill you in on all the details so you'll be able to spot the differences between the two and never bite into the wrong one again.

What is a clementine?

Clementines are the smallest fruit of the mandarin family. They are devoid of any seeds, and because of their small size, they're the most fragile kind of mandarins (via The Daily Meal). This can make them difficult to find, but if you're lucky enough to get your hands on them, they are in season between November and April. The outside of a clementine is a deep orange and the skin is smooth. Its thin texture makes for an easy peel. Claudia Sidoti, a Head Chef at HelloFresh, tells Eat This that this tiny mandarin packs a ton of sweetness, which makes it a great alternative for traditional, sugary desserts. However, this is not the case for a tangerine.

How does a tangerine differ from a clementine?

Even though they have the same sugar content, tangerines are more tart than their clementine counterparts. Tangerines are available a little earlier in the season, as you can scoop them up from October through April. You'll be able to spot a tangerine from its bright orange outlayer. It may not look like it at first, but the skin of a tangerine is much thicker. The rough exterior makes it harder to peel than a clementine, so, if you're all about the quick peel method, a clementine may be your best bet.  

The best test for spotting the differences in tangerines and clementines is the touch test. If ever in doubt, Sidoti says hold both in your hands. If your fruit is smooth, you found the clementine. If it's rough and bumpy, that's the tangerine. Remember these tips next time you head to the grocery store and you'll never come home with the wrong kind of mandarin again.