Week 48, December 2016
What is it about Christmas? Wednesday, the last day of November, mid-morning and not one parking space in Waitrose: chaos at the tills, and no better elsewhere. Everyone will be back nearer the time for their Christmas fruit & veg! In the meantime, my attention turns to apples: there is something about the lovely, cold, crisp days that speaks apples. Not much else really appeals until a cosy evening in front of the fire with a bowl of delicious clementines or a bunch of grapes. The seasons do affect our taste buds, I’m sure, and there is a great choice of fruit for every moment.
FOR MY FRUITBOWL, I WOULD BUY:
- Apples: Rubens, Smitten, Opal, Zari and Egremont Russet;
- Pears: Concorde, Comice, Abaté Fétèl;
- Black Grapes: Sable, Vitoria and Melody from Brazil and Peru;
- Mandarins: Clemenvilla clementines;
- Oranges: Navels from Spain, particularly Fukumoto;
- Grapefruit: Florida Pink Ruby Red.
Apples: There is a great range of varieties on sale, but my favourites, all grown in UK, are: Zari (in Lidl, Sainsbury’s), Rubens (in Tesco), Tentation (M&S), Smitten (seen in M&S, Morrisons, Aldi) and Egremont Russet (in all stores), but I’m also a big fan of Braeburn, which is just on shelves from British orchards.
Pears: Concorde, crisp and perfumed (in M&S, Sainsburys, Tesco and Waitrose); Comice, the ‘queen of pears’, soft and silky; Rocha, only from Portugal, crisp and sweet, and Abaté Fétèl, the fragrant favourite of Italy (always in Lidl, often in Asda) provide a great range of lovely pears on sale now – wonderful!
Grapes: Predominant sources of grapes are Brazil and Peru, with tail-end US fruit in Morrisons and Tesco just about clinging-on to half-decent quality.
Black grapes are my choice: Brazilian and Peruvian Sable, Melody and Vitoria, all with great flavour and now more widely available.
Mandarins: Clementines from Spain and Morocco should be at their best with the main variety, Clemenules, being available until the new year. Some stores are selling Oronules which is slightly different, but equally satisfying, and of similar parentage (ex-Fina).
One of my favourite mandarins has just started: Clemenvilla, a beautiful fruit with great flavour, though slightly harder to peel (often sold as a Tangerine).
Satsumas: Owari satsumas from Spain and Turkey will take us through to early January: pick out the bags with larger, more plump and smooth fruit.
Oranges: Sweet Spanish Navelina Navels are in all stores, with the tasty Fukumoto Navel on sale in Sainsbury’s as Taste-The-Difference.
Grapefruit: Israeli Rio Red, Sunrise and White Marsh from Israel and, for the Naringinphobes amongst us: Florida Pink Ruby Red, sweet, juicy, tropical is now on sale (M&S, Tesco) – delicious!
Peaches & Nectarines: All peaches and nectarines are now from South Africa. They are coming down in price and seem to be ripening well and tasting good.
Persimmons: The main Spanish persimmon, Rojo Brilliante, is now widely available, and some stores are selling the flatter Sharonfruit (Sainsbury’s, Asda) which may soften more, if you like that gelatinous deliciousness which brings out the best in the fruit.
Cherimoya: Cherimoya from Spain, variety Fino de Jete, a very flavoursome fruit, is only available in some Asda stores and independent grocers. Pity.
Mangoes: All mangoes are from Brazil, Palmer, Kent and Keitt, the former being normally more flavoursome. Tesco and Sainsburys are selling Edward from Peru by the box for a slightly different flavour.
Melons: Continuing with my normal circumspection about advice on melons, I would say that the sweetest available are Brazilian Ivory Gaya (aka Sweet Snowball in Tesco Extra) and Ice melon (in M&S).
Plums: All plums on sale are late-season Angelino: cheap, but fairly average in sweetness, texture and flavour. The first new season plums from South Africa have been spotted in Morrisons, and more will follow very shortly
©Good Fruit Guide 2016. 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.