Tangelos, a cross between tangerines and grapefruits, were created in the late 19th century in Florida and California. Tangelos come in many varieties, with Orlando and Minneola being two of the most common. Ripe tangelos taste sweet and juicy, sometimes offering a slightly tart flavor depending on the type. Learning to pick tangelos at peak ripeness provides the best taste.
Ripe tangelos reach approximately the same size as oranges. They should feel heavy for their size. Rinds become orange when ripe, sometimes with a definite reddish hue to them. Firm or slightly soft fruit with smooth skin denotes a well-ripened tangelo. Minneolas are especially susceptible to feeling soft or bloated when mature.
The time of the year in which tangelos mature and ripen depends on the weather where they are grown as well as the cultivar selected. For example, Nova matures early, between September and December, while Thornton may not be fully ripened until March. Those that mature in the winter have more tartness while later maturing varieties offer a sweeter taste.
Tangelos taste best when eaten fresh or squeezed for juice. Juice keeps well in the refrigerator and also blends nicely with the taste of other citrus juices. The peels work well in any recipes calling for crystallized or candied citrus peel as well. Ripe tangelos peel and separate into segments easily, so look for these clues as you prepare them.
Both tangelos and the juice from this fruit freeze poorly. Eat them fresh for best results. Avoid purchasing tangelos with soft or bumpy areas. Poor coloring also indicates a poor quality fruit. Tangelos keep well at room temperature for a couple of days but need to be stored in the refrigerator if kept for longer periods.