This term is used to refer to the group of citrus fruits that have a loose, easily peeled skin, with red undertones. The carpels, or sections, of tangerines separate more easily than those of oranges. Those you're most likely to find in the supermarket are:

Clementines: Also called Algerian tangerines, these small, sweet tasting fruits are seedless. The membranes covering the carpels are thinner than in other tangerines, and the texture of the fruit is very delicate. Most clementines are imported from North Africa and Spain. Season: November to April.

Tangerine: The names mandarin and tangerine are often used interchangeably , but a tangerine is actually a subgroup of mandarin orange. The flavour is distinctive and slightly tart. Tangerines are somewhat flat at the ends and have deep orange, loose-fitting, pebbly skin. Honey tangerines, which were originally called Murcotts, have deep orange flesh, but their skins are more green than orange. They are very sweet, as their name suggests. Season: November to January.

The different varieties of mandarins will be at their best during the midpoint of their growing seasons (noted above). Mandarins, with their loose-fitting skins, will feel soft and puffy compared to oranges, but should be heavy for their size; otherwise, they are likely to be pithy and dry. Choose fruits with glossy, deep orange skins, but disregard small green patches near the stems.

Tangerines and other mandarins should be refrigerated; they will keep for just a few days.

Tangerines and other mandarins peel easily if you insert your finger into the opening and pull back the peel.

To prepare mandarins for use in fruit salad or cooked dishes, peel the fruit, separate the segments, and then pull off the membrane from each segment, if desired. Remove and discard the pits, which may be many or few depending on the variety.