FRUIT NEWS THIS WEEK:
There’s only One Show: Even in the depths of winter, there are significant changes to fruit in retailers. To name but a few, try the increasingly available South African Lychee; the improving Spanish Clemenules easy-peelers; or the sublime, sweet, juicy Florida Pink grapefruit. Easy-peelers are being featured on the BBC One Show, 14th December – a Chris Bavin interview with the Good Fruit Guide: not to be missed!
FOR OUR FRUITBOWL, WE WOULD BUY:
- Apples: A range of great varieties, e.g. Braeburn, Rubens, Smitten, Cox, etc;
- Pears: Comice, Concorde, Qtee and Xenia: excellent;
- Mandarins: Clemenules and Clemenvilla from Spain;
- Grapes: New green varieties from Brazil and Peru;
- Lychee: One of the tastiest fruit, revving-up for Christmas;
- Persimmon: Rojo Brilliante and Sharonfruit: great when softened;
- Cherimoya: Tasty custard apple from Spain;
- Grapefruit: Israel and Florida: tasty pink, red and white.
Apples: There are seven dessert apples that can be found in whichever retailer you frequent, barring the smaller outlets, which are on sale throughout the year (Cox being the exception). We all have our favourite, familiar choice, and of these, the Good Fruit Guide rates Braeburn, Cox, Jazz and Pink Lady as 4 or 5 star fruit. However, you can find some exceptional alternatives if you look carefully:
Asda often has Rubens, Honeycrisp and Egremont Russet;
M&S also stocks Egremont Russet, and have Amelia and Rockit, among others;
Morrisons has Smitten;
Sainsbury’s favours Zari, with Kanzi, Rubens and Egremont Russet often found;
Tesco usually has Kanzi, Rubens and Egremont Russet, sometimes Cameo;
Waitrose gives space to a varying range of less common English apples such as Opal, and will usually have Egremont Russet along with the most extensive choice of the supermarkets.
Pears: Comice and Rocha are the easiest ‘quality’ pears to find in stores. Others, such as Concorde, Abaté Fétèl, Qtee and Xenia are more specific to certain retailers, though most have at least one of these to try.
Mandarins: Spanish and Moroccan clementines have entered the main season with variety Clemenules, which will take us through Christmas. Clemenules are great easy-peelers (see BBC One Show, 14th December, for a Chris Bavin interview with the Good Fruit Guide) and are perfect for being reliably sweet and easy to peel. Don’t forget the main alternative, Clemenvilla (usually sold as a tangerine), which is more satisfying with its dense, sweet and flavoursome flesh, though slightly more difficult to peel.
Grapes: All grapes worth eating are now from Brazil and Peru. Particularly good are new green varieties such as Arra 15, Cotton Candy, Sugar Crisp and Sweet Globe: try to buy punnets with bigger, slightly yellower berries. Also look out for red grape Sweet Celebration (seen in Morrisons, M&S and Sainsbury’s), just nice and crisp and sweet. Of course, black grapes Sable and Vitoria continue to ooze flavour.
Lychee: The lychee season from South Africa, Mozambique and Madagascar has started, with stocks in many larger stores. These are among the most delicious fruit on sale throughout the year, and the southern hemisphere season is the best chance to buy them at decent prices. Currently, they are still a bit expensive, but volumes will go up and prices down as we approach Christmas.
Persimmon: Fast becoming a staple of the winter fruit bowl, Spanish persimmons are available in almost all stores, either Rojo Brilliante or the flat Sharonfruit. To get the best from this lovely fruit, buy those with a deep orange skin, and let them soften a bit at room temperature before eating (they can even be left until jelly-like), and don’t be put off by darkened areas in the flesh.
Cherimoya: Cherimoya, or Custard Apple, is struggling to capture the attention of the British fruit-lover, but they are a great option if you are seeking enticing flavour (in Asda and green grocers). Don’t eat the pips!
Grapefruit: Excellent grapefruit from Israel, both White Marsh and Sunrise, are in all stores, except the discounters.
If you are not a grapefruit fan, try Florida Pink (spotted in Morrisons & Waitrose), which has lower bitterness levels and greater sweetness due to its tropical origin. Alternatively, Sainsbury’s have joined M&S in selling Sweetie, a pomelo x grapefruit cross, which also has high sweetness and low acids.
Peaches and Nectarines: South African peaches and nectarines are in mid-season and in most supermarkets: quality is good and prices for smaller fruit not so bad. Let them soften gently in your fruit bowl at room temperature.
Blueberries: South Africa and Peru are now providing all blueberries: they should be of good quality, but it is worth checking softness before eating.
Strawberries: Amazingly, there are still some British strawberries on sale (seen in Waitrose), but the majority are now from Egypt, Morocco and Jordan. These are not renown for flavour, and can be a bit crunchy, but do look the part as an ingredient.
Oranges: Virtually all oranges in supermarkets are now the Spanish Navelina. These may have a bit of a tang, but will get better over the next week or two. South African Valencia Late, Midknight and Delta are all but finished.
Satsumas: Turkish and Spanish Owari are in all stores. Look for tenderness and plumpness as a key sign of the best juicy quality.
Mangoes: All stores are selling either Palmer, Keitt or Kent from Brazil. None really stand-out as fabulous, but Palmer generally has more flavour.
Figs: Late Israeli varieties, Brown Turkey / Autumn Honey, and Toro Sentado from Peru, are the choice of fresh figs. The latter may be the sweeter, though more expensive option.
Plums: Angelino continues to be the only plum available (from Spain, Italy): dense, firm, perhaps good for culinary use.
7th December, 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.