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How To Tell If A Tangerine Is Ripe

If you’ve ever bitten into a less-than-perfect tangerine, you know the importance of picking a ripe one. But how can you be sure?

This guide breaks down the signs and steps to find the perfect tangerine.

Top view of a wooden box filled with ripe tangerines on a wooden table.

To identify a ripe tangerine, look for a bright orange color without green patches. The skin should be slightly firm, and it should emit a sweet, citrusy aroma. Tug tests and light squeezes can also confirm ripeness.

How To Tell If A Tangerine Is Ripe

Tangerines, like other citrus fruits, have a seasonal cycle. They’re typically in season from late fall to spring. The ripening process is dependent on factors like temperature, light, and moisture.


A ripe tangerine has a vibrant orange hue, reminiscent of a beautiful sunset. Green patches indicate unripeness, suggesting the fruit was likely harvested too early.

Just as there are clear indications when determining if a kumquat is ripe, color is a primary indicator for tangerines.

On the other hand, dull or overly dark spots can be a sign of overripeness, and may also indicate that the fruit has started to decay or has been exposed to excess sunlight.


The skin of a ripe tangerine should be smooth and slightly firm, offering a gentle resistance to the touch. If it feels overly soft or shriveled, it might be past its prime, losing its juicy content.

Whereas, if the skin feels rock-hard, the tangerine probably isn’t ripe enough, similar to the hardness one might find in an unripe orange.


Bring the tangerine close to your nose and take a deep inhale. A sweet, citrusy aroma is a good indicator of ripeness, transporting you to a sunny orchard in your mind.

If the smell is faint or non-existent, it might still need some time, while a fermented odor suggests it’s overripe or possibly rotting.

ColorBright orangeGreen patchesDull/dark spots
TextureSlightly firmHardSoft or shriveled
AromaSweet & citrusyLittle to no aromaSlightly fermented smell

How to Store Tangerines

Tangerines, with their burst of citrusy sweetness, are a delightful treat. To ensure you savor their freshness over time, it’s essential to store them correctly. Just as it’s crucial to know how to store oranges, tangerines also have specific storage preferences.


Tangerines can stay fresh on the counter for up to a week. Ensure they’re in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight.


For a longer shelf life, place tangerines in the vegetable crisper drawer of your refrigerator for up to 2-3 weeks. Make sure they’re dry to prevent mold.


For long-term storage, peel, deseed, and freeze tangerine segments on a baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer them to zip-top bags. They can be stored for up to 12 months and are best used in smoothies or recipes.

Frequently Asked Questions About How To Tell If A Tangerine Is Ripe

Tangerines are typically in season from late fall to spring, offering the juiciest and ripest fruits during this period.

Even if a tangerine appears ripe, it could be from a tree that was watered too much or too little, affecting its sweetness.

Some varieties of tangerines are seedless, while others contain seeds. The presence of seeds doesn’t determine ripeness.


Finding a ripe tangerine might seem tricky, but with the right knowledge and a little practice, you’ll become a pro in no time. Keep in mind the color, texture, and aroma, and don’t forget our two handy tests.

For those interested in the cultivation side, knowing when and how to harvest tangerines is essential. You can find more on the harvesting process here.

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