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Tangerine, Mandarin, And Clementine Substitute – 4 Ideas To Try

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Do you ever find yourself with an abundance of tangerine and don’t care for them at all ? What if your favorite recipe calls for mandarins and you really don’t like them ? More, what if that mulled wine asks for clementines and you have none on hand ?

Well, then you’re in dire need of some substitutes, and since these three are so darn similar, we’ll talk about all of them at once. 

tangerine mandarin clementine substitute

Tangerine, mandarin, and clementine substitute

Tangerines, mandarins, and clementines can all be substituted for one another 1 for 1. They can also be substituted with oranges, grapefruit, pomelos, or kumquats. 

All three are sweet, less acidic than oranges, with mandarins being less sweet and leaning more towards grapefruit. Clementines are the sweetest of the bunch, and the peels of all three are perfectly good for mulled wine. The whole point of using any of these citrus fruits is to get the citrus oil. This usually means grating the zest into a cake batter or a sauce or adding it to roast meat. 

Read also: Pomelo Substitutes 

And yes, you read that right. The closest substitution is to use mandarins, tangerines, and clementines in place of each other. They’re so closely related they taste very similar. Substituting any of these with an orange changes the flavor more than substituting with one another.

All three can be substituted with citrus fruit

As all three are citrus fruit, you can easily substitute them with other citrus fruit if you can’t find anything else. Lemons, limes, and other such fruits that aren’t even remotely sweet are not the best match. This is because all three fruits are decidedly sweet, while lemons and limes are obviously not.

Aside from this, lemons and limes have a fresher, different kind of smell and composition in their citrus oil that sets them apart from the orange and grapefruit side of the family.

citrus fruits

Grapefruit and pomelo are closer to mandarin

Now, what if you’ve only got grapefruits on hand ? Or just pomelo ? Well you’re in luck because grapefruit is a cross between pomelo and sweet orange. So it’s vaguely sweet with a muskier, rose-like scent. 

It works great as a mandarin substitute, but you can use it in place of clementines or tangerines too if this is all you have. Pomelo works the same way, and is actually sweeter than grapefruit.

Whichever you use, please remember to peel the membrane off each segment, because that’s where the bitterness is. 

Oranges are closer to clementines and tangerines

In terms of smell and flavor, oranges are closer to clementines and tangerines. A whole orange is usually equivalent to two clementines or tangerines.

If you’re using these in a salad, be sure to remove any seeds you may find in the orange. You may also have to cut the segments in half to get closer to a tangerine or clementine size.

An important point is the zest. Oranges provide more zest than clementines or tangerines, simply because their peel is thicker and you can grate more of it. A tangerine or clementine has thinner peel, and you will quickly get to the white pith underneath.

Read Also: Pomelo VS Yuzu

You can use kumquats in place of all three

Another interesting substitution is the kumquat. You can eat kumquats whole, as their skin is very thin and it’s actually sweet. But because of the concentration of citrus oil, it might burn your tongue a little. The inside of a kumquat is not that sweet, it’s more on the tart side. 

We recommend at least halving the kumquats, especially if you’re adding them to a salad. These are also wonderful for an orange duck substitute, or an orange marmalade !

And that’s pretty much it about tangerine, mandarin, and clementine substitutes. Remember that each of these can substitute one another very well, and only after that you can try oranges or grapefruit.

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