Bleak mid-winter may not seem the time to focus on fruit, but we need our nutrition and vitamins! Focus on the fantastic Mediterranean citrus of the moment, as well as wonderful South African grapes and delicious local apples, not forgetting the indulgent baby figs, just starting.
FOR OUR FRUITBOWL, WE WOULD BUY:
- Mandarins: Nadorcott, Nour and Tangold;
- Oranges: Spanish Navels and Sicilian Blood oranges;
- Grapes: Melody, Sweet Celebration, Sable, Arra15;
- Pears: Abaté Fétèl, Concorde, Rocha and Comice;
- Plums: Ruby Sun, Sapphire and Flavorking;
- Figs: Ronde de Bordeaux from South Africa;
- Apples: Envy, Rubens, Empire
Mandarins: It’s a great time of year for mandarins from Spain and Morocco. For complex flavour, sweet and tangy, try Nadorcott and Tangold (aka Tango), or the fine, satisfying Orri. For less tanginess, most stores are selling Nour from Morocco: best for those with a sweet tooth. In large Tesco stores you may find the soft, juicy Minneola Tangelo from Israel which has a loyal following, though is quite rare.
Oranges: February is wonderful for oranges with a choice of lovely Spanish navels, blood oranges from Spain and Italy, juicy Salustiana and Seville oranges for marmalade.
Navels are delicious later season varieties, Navellates and Lane Lates, with the rather special Moroccan Cara Cara spotted in M&S (as Rose Orange). Of blood oranges, Sicilian Tarocco (seen in M&S, Morrisons and Waitrose) is sublime in its taste and texture, but Moro and Spanish Sanguinelli are also worth trying. The Salustiana is a ‘blond’ orange from Spain, not renowned for its flavour, but full of juice.
Grapes: South Africa and Namibia are the main source of grapes at the moment, and quality is wonderful. All the ‘sweet n’ crisp’ varieties such as Thompson, Crimson, Ralli and Midnight Beauty should be very satisfying, with no excuse for poor quality. The best ‘flavour’ grape continues to be South African Sable, one of the tastiest examples of this variety (in all stores), but there are also several interesting newer varieties to try. Specifically, look out for black grape, Melody (many stores), red grape, Sweet Celebration (seen in Sainsbury’s and Waitrose) and green grape, Arra15 from Namibia, which all have that ‘give me more’ effect whereby punnets seem too small.
Pears: February always seems like the end of the pear season as choice of varieties dwindles and displays look a bit tired. However, this is a bit of a misnomer with modern storage techniques as the main varieties continue perfectly well. The Good Fruit Guide favourites are still available, if you know where to look: Abaté Fétèl (generally Asda, Lidl), Concorde (seen in M&S, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose), Comice (ad hoc) and Rocha (all stores).
Plums: February will see introduction of the better mid-season plum varieties from South Africa. Ruby Sun (seen in Tesco, Waitrose), Sapphire and Flavorking (M&S, Waitrose) are the best of the current offer and should be very satisfying, if ripened properly in your fruit bowl.
Figs: Ronde de Bordeaux from South Africa, a baby fig, is a total indulgence and is just starting in stores (seen in Asda, so far): wonderful!
Avocado: Hass avocados continue to come either from South/Central America or Spain/Israel, with the slender, green-skinned Pinkerton seen in Sainsbury’s and Waitrose (sold loose).
Apples: Among the many good quality apple varieties on sale, the Good Fruit Guide choice is Rubens (Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco); Envy (M&S, Waitrose), Empire (Tesco) and Egremont Russet (seen in Morrisons and Waitrose).
Grapefruit: Israeli red and white grapefruit are reliably good and are sweeter than the cheaper Spanish and Turkish Star Ruby. Normally, the pick of all grapefruit is the sublime Florida Pink (in most stores, except Waitrose and Asda), but it’s been a tough season for the growers so prices are up and stocks may be supplemented with Texan grapefruit which are good, but not quite the same.
Apricots, Peaches and Nectarines: South African stone fruit are available in all stores and continue in peak season, so should offer good eating quality.
Blueberries: Large amounts of blueberries from Chile continue to be good quality and decent price. Any quality issues are basically down to poor stock management by retailers and their suppliers.
3rd February, 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. 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.