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Mandarins and clementines look very much the same. While it is easy to spot the fruits of other citrus plants such as orange or lemon, distinguishing between mandarins and clementines is more challenging. Not very helpful is the fact that in Germany the terms are often used synonymously and in the EU class tangerines, clementines and satsumas are summarized as tangerines. But biologically, there are clear differences between the two citrus fruits.
1. Origin of clementines
Officially, Clementine (Citrus × aurantium) is a hybrid of mandarin and bitter orange. It was discovered about 100 years ago in Algeria by the Trappist monk and eponym Frère Clément. Today, the cold-tolerant citrus plant is mainly cultivated in southern Europe, northwest Africa and Florida.
2. Origin of the tangerine
Mandarins contain many seeds and are therefore not often found in the trade. Instead, tangerines, satsumas and above all clementines are sold
The first mention of the mandarin (Citrus reticulata) dates from the 12th century BC. It is believed that mandarins were originally cultivated in northeastern India and southwestern China, later in southern Japan. At that time, the tangerine was a cherished fruit reserved for the emperor and the highest officials. The name most likely goes back to the yellow silk robe of senior Chinese officials, who were called "Mandarin" by the Europeans. Citrus fruit first came to Europe in the 19th century and today it is mainly imported from Spain, Italy and Turkey to Germany.
At first glance Mandarin and Clementine seem almost identical
Although Mandarine and Clementine seem confusingly similar at first sight, there are some differences when looking closer.
The flesh of the two fruits differs minimally in color. While the pulp of the tangerine is juicy orange, you can see the clementines on their slightly lighter, yellowish flesh. In addition, the tangerine has many seeds and is eaten by children, for example, not so much as the clementine, which has few nuclei.
The shells of the two citrus fruits are also different. Clementines have a much thicker shell, which is harder to loosen. As a result, clementines are much more resistant to cold and pressure than tangerines and can last up to two months when stored in sufficiently cool conditions. Mandarins, on the other hand, are usually at the limit of their shelf life after two weeks.
Probably the most significant difference of both fruits is the number of fruit segments. Mandarins divide into 9 segments, clementines can contain between 8 and 12 fruit segments.
Clementines have between 8 and 12 fruit segments, while mandarins only consist of 9 segments
Both mandarins and clementines emit a fragrant scent that is created by the small oil glands that look like pores. In terms of taste, the tangerine with an intense aroma that is slightly tart or more acidic than that of the clementines is especially convincing. Since clementines are sweeter than tangerines, they are often used to cook jams - perfect for the Christmas season.
Tasty and healthy are of course both citrus fruits. However, clementines have a higher vitamin C content than mandarins. Because when you consume 100 grams of clementines you consume about 54 milligrams of vitamin C. Tangerines at the same amount can provide only about 30 milligrams of vitamin C. Also in terms of folic acid content, the Clementine far exceeds the mandarin. Only in terms of calcium content, the tangerine can defend against the clementines and it also has a few more calories - even if the difference in this case is minimal.