Tastes of Autumn: As the weather changes and the trees start to turn, the tastes of autumn start to dominate the choice of fruit in our grocers. There is an abundance of flavour from the long European summer growing season, much of which has been hot and dry this year. The impact of the growing conditions will be obvious in flavour and sweetness, particularly in grapes, apples and pears which are exceptional. However, don’t forget the delicious late-season citrus from South Africa, and the first southern hemisphere blueberries.
FOR OUR FRUITBOWL, WE WOULD BUY:
- Apples: A wealth of flavoursome British fruit;
- Grapes: Lovely and sweet from Spain, Italy & Greece;
- Pears: Beginning a long season of great varieties;
- Kiwiberries: A tasty snacking fruit;
- Mangoes: Osteen from Spain;
- Mandarins: Orri from South Africa and Peru;
Apples: While the main ‘year-round’ apples are still from the southern hemisphere (apart from Gala), there are plenty of interesting newly picked homegrown varieties to experience. All supermarkets are stocking something from British orchards, including the first Cox. In particular, look out for Worcester, Delbarde Estivale, Early Windsor and Zari, but there are plenty of others to satisfy more traditional tastes. The hot, dry summer has helped intensify natural sugar levels and flavour, so we may well be in for a treat this season.
Grapes: Pretty much all Greek, Spanish and Italian grapes have great eating quality, but there is a wonderful range of interesting ‘flavour’ varieties, now increasingly available. Particular favourites of the Good Fruit Guide are Sable, Muscat Beauty and K2 Mango: definitely buy double quantities! However, Cotton Candy is also very popular and sold by most retailers, while interesting flavours, textures and sweetness are well worth trying in varieties such as Candy Hearts and Sweet Mayabelle.
If the premium varieties are a bit pricey, the standard varieties are also in great shape and will satisfy anyone. The widely available Thompson Seedless from Greece has been excellent, and newer varieties such as Sweet Celebration and Melody are lovely: now is the time!
Pears: Apart from a few tail-end stocks of South African Packhams Triumph, we now have the mainstream European varieties starting-up for the rest of the season. Fresh Conference is in all stores, but also look out for Abaté Fétèl and blushed Qtee and Celina. Soon to arrive will also be the delicious Concorde and Comice.
Kiwiberries: These are a great snack-fruit and perfect for the school or work lunchbox. Grown in the UK, they are literally like mini kiwifruits, but with smooth skins which can be eaten whole: current variety – Weiki (seen in M&S, Morrisons and Tesco).
Mangoes: The later season Israeli mangoes, such as Keitt, are worth trying for their levels of sweetness and maturity, superior to the South American and Caribbean alternatives. Also look out for Osteen from Spain, usually a nicely flavoured mango (so far only seen in Coop).
Mandarins: Mandarins are all from Peru or South Africa and are essentially Nadorcott (aka Tangold in guaranteed seedless form) or Orri. These are both great varieties, though Orri has less of an acid balance and many rate it as the ‘perfect’ mandarin. Take care when buying though, in Tesco for example, both varieties are in the same packaging, so read the label!
Blueberries: South African and Peruvian blueberries are vying for shelf-space with late UK and Polish fruit. There is nothing wrong with the latter, but the South African fruit is particularly interesting for the range of improved ‘Oz’ varieties such as Oz Julietta and Oz Bonita. Also note the interesting addition of blueberries from Zimbabwe (seen in M&S and Tesco)!
Figs: At this time of year, the Black Bursa fig from Turkey is usually top of the best fruit list as the most alluring fruit on sale. However, this year the beautifully plump, velvety soft and sweet Bursa has been difficult to find in stores. Instead, there seems to be plenty of a rather hard, slightly pale fig which lacks sweetness and flavour: something is amiss!
Satsumas: Iwasaki Spanish satsumas are gradually appearing (seen in Sainsbury’s and Tesco). The first fruit are tangy! However, these are delightful easy-peelers once properly underway: plump, sweet and juicy.
Melons: More or less all melons are now coming from Brazil as the Spanish season fades: expect a change in eating quality as a result. The first Canteloupe seem hard and bland, though the general flavour and sweetness of the new season fruit properly remains to be seen.
Peaches and Nectarines: There are still some lovely peaches and nectarines available from Spain, but the more dense late varieties are predominating as the season of succulent juicy summer stone fruit draws to an end.
Plums: There are a fair few standard plum varieties still available, but the late season Angelino is set to dominate over the next couple of months: sweetness, but not succulence. Of British plums, Victoria (in M&S, Lidl and Morrisons) and Marjorie’s Seedling (everywhere else) are still on sale.
Oranges: All oranges are from South Africa, both Navels and Valencia Lates. The former will soon finish as the delicious late varieties are depleted, so it is worth looking out for Navellate, Cambria or Autumn Gold for the best eating quality.
20th September, 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.