New Year fruit is special with the best mandarins, oranges and grapes of the entire year on our shelves for us all to enjoy. Enjoy!
FOR OUR FRUITBOWL, WE WOULD BUY:
- Mandarins: Nadorcott, Nour and Tangold;
- Oranges: Spanish Navels and Sicilian Blood oranges;
- Grapes: Cotton Candy, Melody, Sweet Celebration, Sable and Vitoria;
- Pears: Abaté Fétèl, Concorde, Rocha and Comice;
- Plums: Ruby Sun and African Rose;
- Avocados: Israeli Pinkerton;
- Apples: Envy, Zari and Rubens
Mandarins: Spanish and Moroccan mandarins are exceptional in January and February as the later season varieties become available. These tend to have lovely depth of flavour and are satisfyingly sweet and tangy. Look out for Nadorcott and Tangold (a variant of the former), and Orri which are just starting, with Nour from Morocco as the main later variety on sale now: all have a delicious complexity of flavour.
The clementine variety Clemenules, is still on sale in many stores and remains a good choice for those who prefer more sweetness: the acids are declining as the season draws to a close.
The beautiful, firm and flavoursome Clemenvilla, often sold as a tangerine, is still on the shelves of many supermarkets and still good, though also with diminishing acids.
Oranges: Oranges are gorgeous at the moment with a choice of lovely Spanish navels, mainly Navelina, but Navellates also starting, and Moroccan Cara Cara spotted in M&S (as Rose Orange). However, also look out for Sicilian blood oranges, Moro and Tarocco which are in their early season. Waitrose have a Spanish version of Ippolita Tarocco, which is sublime and worth the extra.
For marmalade lovers, the Seville orange season is also underway (seen in Sainsbury’s, Waitrose).
Grapes: With the South African and Namibian seasons in full flow, grapes are wonderful at the moment: there is very little excuse for any poor quality from retailers, regardless of variety. Some good quality Peruvian and Brazilian fruit is also still available.
As ever, the Good Fruit Guide Pick-of-the-bunch for flavour are: black grapes, Sable (most stores) and Vitoria (Waitrose, Morrisons), and green grape, Cotton Candy (seen in M&S, Waitrose). However, also look out for red grape, Sweet Celebration (ad hoc availability) and black grape, Melody (seen in Sainsbury’s): both are delicious! As an aside, Sable from South African is often the most flavoursome of all producing countries around the globe.
Pears: The choice of pears continues to be good with all the Good Fruit Guide favourites being available, if you know where to look: Abaté Fétèl (generally Asda, Lidl), Concorde (seen in M&S, Sainsbury’s (TTD), Tesco), Comice (most stores) and Rocha (all stores). Asda are selling ‘Extra Special’ Kaiser (also known as Buerre Bosc) from Italy which has a lovely crisp texture and sweetness, though probably needs peeling.
Plums: The South Africa plum season is well underway with standard varieties such as Pioneer, Purple Majesty and Black Splendour. These are generally good to eat as long as they are properly ripe. To a large extent, the retailers’ demands of their suppliers influences the success of the ripening process, but as consumers, make sure there is good softness before eating by keeping the fruit in your fruit bowl.
Two new varieties are worth seeking out for better sweetness and flavour: Ruby Sun (seen in Asda, Waitrose) and African Rose (seen in Aldi, M&S): promising!
Avocado: The standard Hass avocado is either from South/Central America or Spain/Israel. There should be a difference in eating quality due to stage of the season (late vs early) though probably only detectable by aficionados. An interesting alternative is the Israeli Pinkerton (sold loose in Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose), which is a slender, green-skinned fruit with a lighter taste sensation than Hass.
Apples: There should be no problems with quality of any apples on sale at present. The standard all-year-round varieties are in fine form and available from most retailers.
For something a little different, choice of apple variety in larger stores of Sainsbury’s, Tesco, M&S and Waitrose is impressive, each with their own favourites. The Good Fruit Guide choice is Rubens (Tesco); Zari (Sainsbury’s) and Envy (M&S, Waitrose).
Grapefruit: Israeli red and white grapefruit are reliably good and will satisfy fans of the fruit. However, for those who remain unconvinced of grapefruit attributes, try Florida Pink (usually in M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s, Tesco), which has a lovely sweetness and lashings of juice, or the Sweetie (seen in Aldi, M&S, Morrisons) from Israel, which has very little of the bitterness-inducing naringin.
Apricots, Peaches and Nectarines: South African stone fruit are available in all stores and are in peak season, so should offer good eating quality.
Blueberries: Large amounts of blueberries from the southern hemisphere continue to be great quality and at good prices. Don’t leave the larger berries for more than 2-3 days in the fridge as the texture can often become unpleasantly soft.
Persimmons: Rojo Brilliante from Spain is still on sale in some retailers, though is very much at the end of the season. The fruit is still sweet, but more firm than the main season examples.
19th January, 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.