Slow Start: Is it me, or has there been an awful lot of pretty average tasting fruit around recently? Particularly with citrus, I’ve found much of the Spanish fruit to be below par, lacking sweetness or succulence, and we are only just starting to get good, sweet clementines with the arrival of Clemenules. Similarly, many pears on sale have not delivered their usual delicate flavour, and some early Brazilian mangoes have not ripening properly, among several examples. Maybe it’s a seasonal influence: too hot in the summer or too much rain in Spain, or maybe it’s my bad luck, but either way, it highlights the complexity of finding excellent flavour in fruit: the challenge continues!
FOR OUR FRUITBOWL, WE WOULD BUY:
- Apples: Decent quality and a great range, e.g. Braeburn, Rubens or Smitten;
- Pears: Qtee and Xenia have been enjoyable;
- Mandarins: Clemenules from Spain seems sweet;
- Grapes: Explore new varieties as Brazil and Peru dominate the market;
- Persimmon: Both Rojo Brilliante and Sharonfruit are great when softened;
- Cherimoya: Tasty custard apple from Spain;
- Blueberries: good southern hemisphere quality.
Apples: Along with the old favourites, there is a great choice of lesser known and newer apple varieties in supermarkets, if you look carefully. M&S and Waitrose generally have the best choice in their four-packs, but also find Zari in Sainsbury’s, Rubens in Asda and Tesco, Kanzi in Sainsbury’s and Tesco, and Smitten in Morrisons: all with something interesting to offer.
Buying organic apples in supermarkets isn’t easy, as most will only offer Gala, it anything: rather uninspiring. However, in large Tesco and Sainsbury’s stores, and Waitrose to a lesser extent, there is always a reasonable choice of three or four varieties, usually Braeburn, Gala, Pink Lady and Santana.
Pears: Comice, Concorde, Abaté Fétèl and Rocha should be the best varieties for their flavour, but some have been quite insipid so far this season: hopefully the later stocks will be better. Some Qtee (in M&S, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose) and Xenia (in Morrisons, occasionally) have had good sweetness and are certainly worth trying, to eat hard or soft.
Mandarins: Southern hemisphere mandarins are all but finished (some Chilean Orri still in M&S), with Spain and Morocco taking over for the next few months. Spanish clementines have entered the main season with Clemenules, which will take us through to the new year. Clemenules is normally a great variety: reliably sweet, flavoursome and easy to peel, and perfect for children: samples so far have been pretty good.
Grapes: Any northern hemisphere grapes on sale are stretching their season with stored fruit. The freshest grapes are from Brazil and Peru, and available in all stores. With the new season are increasing volumes of improved new varieties which are well-worth trying. Look out for: black grapes Sweet Enchantment, Sable and Vitoria; red grapes Candy Snaps, Sweet Nectar and Sweet Celebration; and green grapes Arra 15, Cotton Candy, Sugar Crisp and Sweet Globe, all with great sweetness, flavour and texture combinations.
Persimmon: The domed Rojo Brilliante or the flat Sharonfruit are Spanish persimmons and are available in almost all stores, often on promotion. Some are in danger of being tasteless, so do two things to get the best from this lovely fruit: buy those with deep, even orange colour, 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 of the flesh.
Cherimoya: If you are seeking flavour, try Cherimoya from Spain (in Asda and wise green grocers).
Blueberries: South Africa, Argentina and Peru are now providing all blueberries: all should be of good quality, but it is worth checking them for softness before eating.
Kiwifruit: Kiwifruit are now predominantly Italian or Greek, with some late Chilean still in cheaper packs. Gone are the days of a choice of one type of kiwifruit, as yellow varieties, Sungold and Jintao, which have less of an acid tang than Green Hayward, are more widely grown.
M&S and Waitrose are selling a red kiwifruit, new on the market: unusual flavour.
Oranges: The new Navel season has started with Spanish Navelina, now in all stores. These will still be a bit tangy, but are a clear alternative to South African Valencia Late, Midknight and Delta.
Grapefruit: Most grapefruit is now from the Mediterranean, with the pick of the options being White Marsh Seedless and Sunrise from Israel. The Florida Pink season is just starting (in Lidl, Morrisons), but early samples have been lacking in sweetness. As this grapefruit is sold on sweetness and mild acids, let’s hope it improves.
Satsumas: Turkish and Spanish Owari are in all stores: tangy, juicy and sweet. Plumpness is a key sign of juicy quality, so try to buy them as plump and smooth as possible.
Avocado: Aside from the usual Hass avocado (now from Chile, Peru and Mexico), there are two alternatives: Ryan, a green skin variety (in Waitrose) which is particularly creamy; and Torres from Argentina (in Asda and Morrisons), a large smooth-skinned fruit, currently ripening in my fruit bowl – looks promising!
Lychee: Watch out for the beginning of the South African / Madagascan season of these delicious fruit: first samples seen in Tesco.
Mangoes: Osteen from Spain is still in Waitrose, but almost finished. Palmer, Keitt or Kent, from Brazil are the alternatives, some quite hit-and-miss, with Palmer generally having more flavour. Perhaps avoid the really green Keitt.
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.
Peaches and Nectarines: South African and Zimbabwe peaches and nectarines are in most supermarkets and should be good with mid-season varieties.
Plums: Angelino is the only plum available (from Spain, Italy): dense and firm, not exciting.
23rd 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.