FRUIT NEWS THIS WEEK:
The Problem of Immaturity: There have been some disappointing figs, persimmons and mangoes on sale, all due to immaturity at harvest, which is such a shame as they are lovely when at their best. We have also had to contend with unexciting new season clementines, perhaps affected by rain in Spain; tangy early varieties of peaches & nectarines from southern Africa, and the most difficult time of year for grape suppliers as Europe ends and South America begins. However, while immaturity is inexcusable given the skills within the fruit industry, there are still plenty of tasty gems to find with a bit of dedication and judicious selection.
FOR OUR FRUITBOWL, WE WOULD BUY:
- Apples: New season Braeburn; and Rubens or Smitten;
- Pears: Abaté, Comice and Concorde;
- Mangoes: Spanish Osteen;
- Satsumas: Juicy Owari from Spain;
- Grapes: Greek Arra 32, and new green varieties.
Apples: There is no problem finding good apples in retailers, and there is something for everyone, though you would struggle for a soft bite: perhaps try Cox or Golden Delicious (in all stores), or Zari (in Sainsbury’s), which is crisp, but very light in texture.
Of note is the start of the European Braeburn season: one of the best varieties, but tending to vary depending on where grown. It is best from regions with a longer growing season, so you have to trust the skill of your retailer in buying astutely.
Interesting new varieties, e.g. Rubens (Asda, Tesco) and Smitten (M&S, Morrisons, Waitrose) are joined by Tentation (M&S, Waitrose), all of which have great texture, sweetness and flavour.
Pears: Comice, Concorde, Abaté Fétèl and Rocha continue to be the favourite varieties of the Good Fruit Guide, principally for their flavour.
A beautiful-looking blushed pear, Qtee (M&S, Waitrose, Sainsbury’s), is gaining prominence from Belgium: smooth skinned, sweet, and eaten hard or soft, it has, unfortunately, so far failed to stand out on taste.
Mangoes: Osteen from Spain is still in some stores (seen in Morrisons and Waitrose) and continues to be the best choice while it lasts (unless picked too early, as some have been). Otherwise, most mangoes are coming from Brazil, either Palmer, Keitt or Kent, with Palmer generally having more flavour.
Satsumas: Spanish Okitsu has now given way to main season Owari. They are tangy, which is part of the appeal, along with the wonderfully juicy, sweet plumpness. Try to buy them as soft and plump and smooth as possible.
Grapes: If you are in Tesco, look out for black grape Arra 32 from Greece: an extraordinary new variety with large berries and huge juiciness. Of other black grapes, Sable and Vitoria from Brazil (in most stores) stand out for flavour, while most others are sweet, though uninspiring.
All red grapes are end-of-season stored varieties from Spain and Italy: Crimson, Allison or Scarlotta. These are crisp and sweet, but otherwise fairly mediocre.
Most green grapes are now from Brazil or Peru, and there are some interesting new varieties to try: look out for Sweet Globe, Sugar Crisp or Arra 15, all of which are sweet with lovely crisp texture.
Persimmon: Spanish persimmons are either the domed Rojo Brilliante (in most stores) or the flat Sharonfruit. They are best eaten when the orange skin colour deepens and flesh softens, as the flavours are not so obvious when the fruit is lightly coloured and hard.
Kiwifruit: Regular buyers of green Hayward kiwi will start to notice a difference in taste as new Italian and Greek fruit starts to take over from New Zealand and Chile: expect some initial tanginess.
If you find yourself in Waitrose, look out for a new variety called Exotic Red (or Oriental Red) from Italy which has an orange-red core and a curious flavour, reminiscent of crème brûlée. Waitrose, in fact, have an unusually expansive range of kiwifruit at the moment: green Hayward (NZ, IT), yellow Sungold (NZ) and Jintao (IT), as well as Oriental Red (IT).
Figs: Late Israeli varieties, Brown Turkey and Autumn Honey are now the main option in retailers: deliciously soft and sweet figs, but often suffering from immaturity which diminishes the experience. Waitrose are selling Toro Sentado from Peru, which may be a better, though more expensive alternative.
Mandarins: Nadorcott from South Africa and Chile are still widely available, and still sweet, though with diminishing acids.
Most stores are now selling fresh Spanish clementines, but eating quality has so far been disappointing, perhaps due to heavy rains in October. The main season clementine, Clemenules, is starting to appear as the early varieties are used-up: hopefully the quality will settle down as this is normally a wonderful fruit.
Cherimoya: If you are seeking flavour, try Cherimoya from Spain, in Asda and wise green grocers.
Blueberries: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Argentina and Peru are now providing all blueberries. Sweet, new Oz varieties from South Africa are well worth trying, if you see them.
Peaches and Nectarines: South African and Zimbabwe peaches and nectarines are in mainstream supermarkets: expect the fruit to be light, fragrant and a little tangy.
Plums: Angelino is practically the only plum available (from Spain, Italy): dense and firm.
Oranges: The last Navels from South Africa and Chile are almost finished with only Cambria (seen in Sainsbury’s) and Navellate (in Aldi) still available. Otherwise the choice is Valencia Late, and improved clones Midknight and Delta: great flavour, often tangy and chewy, but excellent for juicing.
7th November, 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.