What is a Minneola Tangelo?

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  • Last Modified Date: 05 August 2018
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The Minneola tangelo is a specific hybrid citrus fruit that is made by crossing the Duncan or Bowen grapefruit and the “Darcy” variety of tangerine, also called a mandarin orange. The cross was developed by the United States Department of Agriculture, in Florida, and was first released for sale in 1931. The fruit combines the sweetness of the mandarin with the tart flavors of the grapefruit, and it is highly prized for its juiciness and combination of sweet/sour flavors.

As tangelos go, the Minneola tends to be pretty large and is usually bell or pear-shaped. Diameter of the fruit averages about 3 inches (7.62 cm), though some can grow a bit larger. The peel is somewhat thin, but like most tangelos and mandarin oranges, it is pretty easy to peel. Many people like the fact that the fruit doesn’t have very many seeds, usually about ten on average, so they’re easy to avoid.

In the US, the Minneola tangelo tends to prosper best in mild climates like Florida, and the tree fruits from December to February. When consumers are looking for fresh fruit in the winter, citrus fruits tend to be the best bet because they are normally harvested at this time. The trees that produce this tangelo don’t tend to fruit very well if left alone. On commercial farms, they’re often planted with other mandarin orange or tangelo trees that will help create more cross-pollination and better overall crop.


Even with cross pollination efforts and locating the trees near others that provide needed cross pollination, the fruit can sometimes have disappointingly low yields that is not always explainable. Some years, shoppers will find bumper crops of the citrus fruit, and other years, they’ll pay relatively high prices to get them. Because of this unpredictability, they’re not the most profitable fruit to grow, since a low yielding year, even with higher prices, may still mean fewer profits. They are one of the most commonly grown tangelo types, however.

Since Minneola tangelos have such a burst of both sweet and sour flavors, they’re excellent for use in a variety of dishes, though people can make a good argument for simply peeling and eating them. Cooks can add them to either fruit or green salads, and they’ll be delicious when dressed with most vinaigrette dressings. They can also top focaccia, be used in marinades, or grilled. Tangelos provide a delicious way to add that sunny summer feel back into the diet, even when the weather outside is gloomy or cold.


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Discuss this Article

Post 10

I've got two minneolas in my yard. They are about 14 years old but they began producing within a couple of years of planting. I live in Sacramento, CA and I've found that when I leave them on the tree longer, they get sweeter. Like all citrus, they turn orange long before they are ready to eat.

I eat them in January/February, but they are very tart. By March and April, they have become very sweet. You have to let them sweeten on the tree, since citrus doesn't continue to ripen once picked. My trees are both true dwarfs from North Winds nursery and they both produce heavy crops. I give a lot of them away. I have several other citrus so pollination is not a problem. It is an excellent variety of citrus, relatively resistant to cold temperatures. I highly recommend them. Good luck!

Post 9

Can people who are on cholesterol medication eat minneolas? My boyfriend loves oranges and I had no idea it had been mixed with the grapefruit. I believe I am going to have to check with his doctor on this one. It's not going to be fun trying to take these away from him!

Post 8

To answer the poster asking if February was the only good month for minneolas: throughout this last month (April 2014) I bought three bags of them from Walmart, and they were super sweet and juicy plus pleasingly tart as well -- some of the best I've ever had. Minneolas are my new favorite fruit, by the way. So, no, definitely not just February!

Post 7

On my tree they are much sweeter in January than December. I have to wait until they are really orange in color for eating. For marmalade, they can be lighter yellow with even a little green on them, and I still need to add lemon juice to get to set or jell.

Post 6

I just bought minneola tangelos in Walmart here in Maryland in March! I was always told by Fla citrus growers that January was the only month for Minneolas (honeybells). What's the truth?

Post 5

If a minneola tangelo is pollinated by a grapefruit, does this make it more sour than if pollinated by an orange?

Post 4

I have a tangelo tree and mine is always full of fruit. I don't do anything to the tree to encourage this. The tangelos are so sweet and so juicy, it's impossible to eat them without several napkins. Even when peeling them the juice is dripping and squirting everywhere.

I haven't always picked them and I've lived in my home for eight years and the tree was already here. But, this year I started picking them and I will make sure I do every year from now on. I have never bought an orange so sweet ever from the supermarket/stores.

Post 3

I have a tangelo tree that for two years had no fruit at all. Just last year I inquired on fertilizer or vitamins and I this year the tree is so full of fruit, but they are all so bitter! What would my fruit tree need so that it can produce sweet tangelos?

Post 2

Wow. I love the vivid descriptions. I can almost taste the fruit as I read through your article. Gotta get me some of these bad boys!

Post 1

Is a tangelo and a Honeybell the same fruit?

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