Fruit for Comfort: With a distinct nip in the air, the first fires in the evening and the slowing and softening of the natural world about us, the yearning for flavour and sensation definitely seems to change. We must be programmed through long evolutionary forces, as apples and pears, grapes and mandarins become so much more alluring, all of course at their seasonal best with the enveloping of autumn cool.
FOR OUR FRUITBOWL, WE WOULD BUY:
- Apples: A wealth of flavoursome British fruit;
- Grapes: Lovely choices from Spain, Italy & Greece;
- Pears: Shelves filling with great varieties;
- Kiwiberries: A tasty snacking fruit;
- Mangoes: Osteen from Spain;
- Satsumas: Tangy Okitsu from Spain.
Apples: Every supermarket, green grocer and market stall is selling a range of tasty new season British apples. The minimum selection in discounters, in addition to Bramley, will be Cox, Gala and a variety such as Early Windsor or Robijn. However, venture into a large Waitrose or M&S store, and you will find anything up to 9 different varieties on sale, with other supermarkets being somewhere in between. Fairly easy to find are Red Windsor, Worcester Pearmain and Norfolk Royal Russett, which maintain the line of flavoursome ‘English’ apples. These offer a unique eating experience for a few weeks in the autumn, and there are plenty others appearing in an ad hoc fashion, according to availability.
Also, worth noting are some very attractive new varieties which are gaining attention from retailers. These tend to be in M&S and Waitrose, but some can also be found in Sainsbury’s and Tesco, In particular, try Sunburst, a pink-infused yellow apple with great flavour; Smitten and Zari, sweet with lovely texture; and Rubens, great texture and a good acid balance.
The ‘year-round’ apples still from the southern hemisphere include Braeburn, Jazz and Pink Lady.
Grapes: Quality and choice continue to be good, even as subtle changes in the sourcing of grapes are underway: Waitrose, for example, is starting to bring black grapes from Brazil as the Spanish options tighten-up, and the dominance of Greek Thompson Seedless in the white grape market is diminishing, to be replaced by a number of late varieties such as Autumn Crisp.
This is a great time to sample to new ‘flavour’ varieties, which are available in most stores, even the discounters. Particular favourites of the Good Fruit Guide are Sable, Muscat Beauty, K2 Mango and Cotton Candy, but varieties such as Candy Hearts and Candy Drops are also lovely.
Pears: The coming weeks are the best time to enjoy fantastic pears from European orchards. Across all retailers there are about 12 different varieties on sale, but standing-out are: Abaté Fétèl, Rocha and Concorde – to be eaten crisp or soft; and Comice – sweet, soft and juicy.
Kiwiberries: The perfect lunchbox fruit, kiwiberry, such as Weiki, are becoming increasingly available, even in Lidl!
Mangoes: Osteen from Spain, has now got past its earlier immaturity (shame on growers & retailers) and is in its prime: a nicely flavoured mango from our nearest mango-growing region.
Satsumas: The early, and quite tart, Iwasaki satsumas from Spain are finished, to be replaced by the slightly later Okitsu, which should be juicy, less tangy, with greater sweetness.
Mandarins: The first Spanish clementines, Clemerubi, have been spotted in Tesco marking the start of the winter campaign. These will be very different to the Nadorcott and Orri that have been on offer for the past weeks – perhaps a bit tangy, certainly fresh and light in flavour. Take care to check labels for the variety when buying, as many supermarkets don’t make the distinctions very obvious.
Blueberries: There are very few European blueberries left on sale, with South Africa, Argentina and Peru being the main sources. These are fruit from quite early in the season, so there is no excuse for poor quality, though some Peruvian Biloxi has been very tart. Sweet, new Oz varieties from South Africa are well worth trying, if you see them.
Strawberries: Although the season is late, there are still plenty of British strawberries available, and quality is very acceptable.
Figs: Black Bursa figs from Turkey are in all stores, but quality this year seems quite poor compared to last year: principally in under-maturity which results in a lack of sweetness and flavour. Look for well-coloured fruit with a soft, velvety feel to have a better chance of success.
Melons: All melons are now coming from Brazil. There is no real reason why eating quality should be poor, but nothing stands out so far, except reports of lovely watermelons.
Peaches and Nectarines: The dense, late varieties are now the only choice. These will be sweet, but will not have the succulence of earlier fruit.
Plums: The late season, quite dense, Angelino is the main plum available. However, there are some newer late varieties with more succulence and sweetness that are worth trying, such as: September Yummy and October Giant.
Oranges: All oranges are from South Africa, but Navels are diminishing in availability. Valencia Lates make up the majority along with the improved clones Midknight and Delta. Some good deals on bulk purchases are available: excellent for juicing..
5th October, 2018
©Good Fruit Guide 2018. Information and data published on www.goodfruitguide.co.uk must not be reproduced or copied without permission of the editor. Ratings and recommendations on fruit varieties and types with the very best taste are personal to the editor of Good Fruit Guide, and do not attempt to be exhaustive or supported by verifiable consumer research. The highlighting of fruit with the very best taste in the opinion of the editor is not intended as a judgement on the taste of varieties and types of fruit not mentioned.