FRUIT NEWS THIS WEEK:
Apples & Pears: It is the best time of year for apples and pears, particularly for the lesser-known home-grown varieties. However, there are other lovely gems to be found with great flavour, especially the autumnal offerings from the Mediterranean: mangoes, cherimoya, figs and persimmons, and beautiful plump satsumas.
FOR OUR FRUITBOWL, WE WOULD BUY:
- Apples: Wonderful British varieties, old and new;
- Pears: Beautiful Comice and Concorde;
- Persimmon: Spanish season in full flow;
- Mangoes: Spanish Osteen;
- Satsumas: Juicy Okitsu from Spain;
- Figs: Tasty varieties from Israel.
Apples: Enjoy the full range while you can, as soon enough we will settle into the long-stored varieties that take us through to the Spring.
New varieties such as Rubens (Asda, Tesco), Zari (Sainsbury), Sunburst (Waitrose), Smitten and Tentation (M&S, Waitrose), and Rubinstep (Morrisons, Tesco) are the next-generation apples with great texture, sweetness and flavour.
Then, there are the old favourites: Cox, and similar Red Windsor / Early Windsor; Worcester, Spartan, Egremont Russett, and Discovery (amazingly still in Tesco!); and many others that local green grocers and markets may be selling while they last, all with different attributes.
Of the ‘year-round’ apples Braeburn, Gala, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith are, by and large, now from UK and Europe, while Pink Lady and Jazz are still from the southern hemisphere.
Pears: The Autumn is the very best period in the year for pears: you can’t go wrong with juicy, tender Comice; or Concorde, Abaté Fétèl and Rocha to enjoy crispy or soft. Also worth trying is the beautiful blushed pear, Qtee with its smooth skin and sweet flesh.
Ya and Nashi pears from China are also starting to appear: generally, to be found in Asda, Sainsbury’s and Tesco.
Persimmon: The Spanish season for persimmons is now underway with the dome-shaped Rojo Brilliante on sale in most stores, though Asda and Costco are selling the flatter Sharonfruit. Both are deliciously sweet, best eaten when deeply coloured and soft, but also edible when hard – no astringency in these varieties.
Mangoes: Spain has the nearest mango-growing region to UK of all sources, which means the fruit can be left on the trees until slightly more mature for better flavour – no long sea-freight journey needed. The season will soon be over, so try the lovely Osteen while you can, with Spanish Kent and Keitt being pretty good too.
Satsumas: While early Spanish Iwasaki satsumas are still in some stores, look out for the better Okitsu, which is now wonderfully juicy, plump and sweet (check the labels for variety name).
Mandarins: There is a marked contrast between end-of-season southern hemisphere mandarins, principally Nadorcott, and fresh Spanish clementines, such as Clemerubi, Oronules and Orogros. Both types are on supermarket shelves, usually in the same packaging, but quite different in flavour: intense and deep vs. light, sweet and tangy.
Oranges: You may still be able to find the last Navels from South Africa (Cambria seen in Sainsbury’s; Witkrans in Asda), but the choice now is essentially Valencia Lates, and improved clones Midknight and Delta: great flavour, can be tangy, can be chewy, but excellent for juicing.
Figs: The Turkish Black Bursa fig season has been disappointing as much of the fruit has been too immature for great flavour. Fans of fresh figs need not despair though, as late Israeli varieties such as Autumn Honey are now available: deliciously soft and sweet.
Grapes: Spanish and Italian grapes are mostly end-of-season and stored varieties. On the whole, these are the crisp-n’-sweet types, which are perfectly acceptable, though flavour is unexciting. However, amongst them are some interesting new green varieties such as Pristine (seen in Morrisons) with lovely sweetness and texture; and Melissa (seen in Tesco), a curiously attractive soft grape.
The best grapes for flavour are the trusty black Sable and Vitoria from Brazil.
Cherimoya: Asda and wise green grocers are stocking new season Cherimoya (custard apple) from Spain: wonderful flavour, but avoid the pips.
Blueberries: South Africa, Argentina and Peru are now providing all blueberries. Sweet, new Oz varieties from South Africa are well worth trying, if you see them.
Melons: All melons are now coming from Brazil. Recent samples of Sweet Snowball (in Tesco) and Galia have been tasty, which is encouraging.
Peaches and Nectarines: Very dense, late nectarines from Spain are still being sold as the new South African and Zimbabwe season starts: expect a huge contrast in eating quality as the new season fruit will be light, fragrant and a little tangy.
Plums: Angelino is the main plum available and will be for some weeks (from Spain, Italy). However, there are some newer late varieties that are worth trying, particularly September Yummy, which, although dense and crisp, has an attractive flavour.
24th 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.