Relatively young compared to other citruses, the tangelo was developed by agricultural researchers in the early 1900s as a cross between a tangerine and a grapefruit. Its sweet, complex flavor provides a welcome freshness in the cold winter and early spring months. Packed with vitamin C and fiber, the tangelo is a great alternative to a heavy dessert. But don’t let its sweetness keep you from adding it to savory dishes. Experiment with it! The tangelo pairs well with chicken and pork, grains, and salads, and can even make for a delicious cocktail.
A tangelo is about the same size and color as an orange, but has a distinct bell-like shape and rough, loose skin.
Depending on where you live, Minneola/Honeybell tangelos are the typically the most common variety, followed by Orlando tangelos.
More complex in flavor than an orange, a tangelo is a hybrid of a tangerine and a pomelo (a type of grapefruit). As such, its tangerine-like sweetness is tempered by a slight tartness. Orlando tangelos are sweeter than the Minneola variety.
During high season, tangelos are widely available in major supermarkets and specialty stores.
Both Minneola and Orlando tangelo varieties are in season between November and March in the US. The season in Europe may vary considerably depending on the rate of imports.
As with most citrus fruits, choose the heaviest orbs because they contain the most juice. The peel of a tangelo is somewhat loose and bumpy, with a bit of a crown, or pointed end.
Avoid fruit that feels mushy or has shriveled skin—this means it’s overripe. Avoid tangelos with green spots, which means they were picked too early and won’t ripen properly.
When deciding whether to purchase organic or non-organic produce, it’s helpful to know which fruits and vegetables are most affected by pesticides. Pesticides are toxins used to kill insects, invasive plants, and fungi during the growth of produce, and are potentially dangerous to people. National and international agencies agree that prolonged exposure to specific pesticides through food consumption is a potential health risk. Additionally, some studies indicate that organic fruits and vegetables have a higher concentration of vitamins and minerals than conventionally raised produce.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) is an environmental health advocacy and research organization in the United States. From cosmetics to produce, water to cleaning products, EWG provides insight regarding the impact of pesticides, manufacturing practices, and product ingredients on our health and environment. EWG produces a consumer guide ranking 48 fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue. The higher the rank, the lower the residue. In this ranking, the 12 most affected fruits and vegetables belong to the “Dirty Dozen,” and the 15 least affected are part of the “Clean Fifteen.” These lists help identify the produce that is most—and least—dramatically affected by pesticides.
While tangelos do not appear on the EWG “Dirty Dozen” or “Clean Fifteen” produce lists, tangerines and oranges rank at #25 and #31 on the EWG’s full list, meaning that the conventionally grown version is generally safe.
Keep tangelos on the countertop for up to five days or loosely in a plastic bag in the refrigerator crisper for up to two weeks. Tangelo sections don’t freeze well; however, it is possible to freeze tangelo juice for up to one month.
The skin of a tangelo is looser than an orange, so easily remove the peel by inserting a thumb into the crown of the fruit and turning the peel away in one long piece. Generally, tangelos are seedless, but occasionally there are a few seeds that can be removed with the flick of a finger. If there’s any pith (white, stringy tissue) on the sections, it’s soft and easy to remove.
Tangelos are quite juicy, so they’re great for smoothies and juices. Alternately, chop the sections and add to yogurt, pudding, salads, and fruit salsas.
If you’re using tangelo zest, rinse the fruit thoroughly under warm, running water before zesting.
This immune-system-building vitamin offers a host of benefits. Vitamin C is an important nutrient necessary for collagen production, and is essential for maintaining the integrity and function of skin and bone tissue. Vitamin C is also a powerful antioxidant, fighting free radicals and protecting the heart, kidneys, and lungs from disease. This essential nutrient, often found in large amounts in citrus fruits and raw vegetables, may play a role in reducing systolic blood pressure and heart disease risk.
B9 (Folate or Folic Acid)
An important nutrient necessary for normal cell division during pregnancy and infancy, folic acid (vitamin B9) plays a powerful role in the developing infant. For adults, vitamin B9 is also essential for proper metabolism, aiding in energy and the production of red blood cells.
Magnesium is responsible for promoting cardiovascular health, muscle contraction and relaxation, energy production, and proper bone formation. This essential nutrient may also be helpful in regulating healthy blood-sugar levels, decreasing the likelihood of type 2 diabetes.
A fat-soluble nutrient, vitamin A is involved in the development of rhodopsin, a molecule in the eye that promotes healthy vision. Vitamin A is also responsible for promoting the immune system, cell growth, skin health, and the formation of the heart and lungs as well as other bodily organs.
Calcium is an essential mineral responsible for building dense bones and teeth, muscle contractions, neurotransmitter health, and cardiovascular health.
One medium-sized tangelo contains about 8 percent of your daily recommendation of dietary fiber. Dietary fiber aids digestion by helping food move along the digestive tract. Without fiber, you may experience constipation, irregularity, and low energy. High-fiber diets are associated with weight loss, lower cholesterol levels, reduced risk of heart disease, and reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
- As with most citrus fruits, choose the heaviest ones because they contain the most juice.
- There are many types of tangelos, depending on the parent fruits. Each variety of tangerine, grapefruit, and pomelo that are combined to make a tangelo provide a range of flavor profiles.
- Researchers from the United States Department of Agriculture developed the Minneola tangelo in Orlando, Florida, and in 1931, it was available for commercial production.