Scientists Unlock Secrets Of Tangerines

By  //  April 19, 2013


Floridan scientists have learned the basic compounds and structure that make tangerines taste and smell the way they do.

BREVARD COUNTY • ROCKLEDGE, FLORIDA – Citrus lovers who savor the flavor and tangy scent of tangerines are in for a surprise.

Scientific researchers at the University of Florida have discovered that tangerine flavor is not the product of just one compound, but comes from a variety of sources.

In a study published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, researchers have pinpointed the exact compounds for the aroma and flavor of tangerines.

Until now, a great deal was known about the compounds of oranges, but little had been uncovered about what makes a tangerine taste and smell the way it does.

For citrus breeders this is a significant find because learning about tangerine compounds can lead to healthier trees capable of delivering better fruit.

This also could give a boost to the economy, as tangerine production in Florida has shrunk as states like California and Arizona launched initiatives encouraging more tangerine farming.

The growing season for tangerines in Brevard County is usually between October and April.

Here in Brevard tangerines are grown commercially at Harvey Groves in Rockledge and at Hale Groves in Wabasso.

Estimates put Florida tangerine sales at about $40 million a year and that figure is rising as more Americans discover the health benefits of eating tangerines.

Studies have shown that Tangerines offer an inexpensive source of vitamin C and are a good source of fiber.

Tangerines also contain a number of B vitamins including B1, B2 and B6, along with folic acid, pantothenic acid, carotenes, pectin and potassium.

To uncover the secret of tangerine compounds, scientists employed a gas-chromatography-olfactometer, a device which studied and broke down the variety of tangerine components by smell.

By studying five distinct tangerine hybrids, the researchers discovered 49 unique aroma compounds.

With exact tangerine compounds now known, studies can be performed to create and develop new varieties that will better appeal to consumers.