All Change: Early September is a time of the most interesting waxing and waning of fruit seasons. Much is drawing to a conclusion as the summer passes, but we can also savour the harvest of those fruits that have grown throughout the long, warm months: delicious Turkish figs, wonderful Spanish grapes and, of course, the new season apples and pears from orchards all over Europe.
FOR OUR FRUITBOWL, WE WOULD BUY:
- Apples: Flavoursome, early varieties;
- Figs: Delicious Black Bursa from Turkey;
- Mandarins: Nadorcott, Tangold and Orri from South Africa & Peru;
- Grapes: Full of summer sun from Greece, Spain and Italy;
- Oranges: Late navels from South Africa;
- Kiwiberries: An up-and-coming snacking fruit.
Apples: The biggest change in the fruit aisles is the influx of newly harvested apples from British and European orchards. Early varieties, such as Discovery, are already receding, but all main stores have some selection of new fruit. Waitrose, in particular, has about 6 fresh varieties, including the first Cox Orange Pippin. Worcester, a traditional favourite, will become widely available very soon, while Delbarde Estivale (in M&S and Waitrose) and Zari (in Sainsbury’s) are well worth trying.
All the ‘year-round’ varieties are still from the southern hemisphere and of good quality. However, most stores are beginning to sell European Gala (from France, Spain, Portugal and Italy), which should have that lovely freshly-harvested fragrance that soon disappears from fruit in storage.
Figs: While figs are available most of the year from around the world, they tend to be a rather expensive delicacy. However, now is the time to take advantage of the huge supply of Black Bursa figs from Turkey.
Black Bursa are wonderful fruit: soft, sweet and full of flavour, so don’t miss-out. It’s best to buy them loose when you can feel the velvety tenderness of perfect ripeness (cheapest loose fruit are in Lidl at 39p each). Take care to choose those with good, even, dark colouration, as patches of green indicate some immaturity. Prices vary tremendously in supermarkets, from 25p to 62p each (cheapest in Morrisons and Tesco at 25p, pre-packed).
Mandarins: Nadorcott and Tangold (or Tango) from South Africa and Peru are the main mandarin option and are in great condition with a lovely balance of flavour. Orri is a wonderful alternative, and soon, there will be the first Spanish satsumas on supermarket shelves. These will be sweet and juicy, but tangy and quite a contrast!
Grapes: Greek, Spanish and Italian grapes are wonderful at the moment as we enter late summer. This season has been notable by the introduction of significant volumes of the newer varieties, many of which have great flavour as well as sweetness and texture. Most stores are now selling Sable and Cotton Candy (now on promotion in some stores), which are the best known of these types, but also look out for the sublime Muscat Beauty (seen in M&S, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s), which is soft and perfumed.
Oranges: Late navels from South Africa are at their very best, and the Valencia Lates (and Midknights) are also very tasty. Look out in particular for Cara Cara (in Tesco in pink nets), and Autumn Gold (Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose) which are deliciously sweet.
Kiwiberries: For a great snack, try Kiwiberries, a variety called Geneva, grown in UK. These are literally like mini kiwifruits, but with smooth skins which can be eaten whole (in M&S, Tesco, Waitrose). Kids will love them in their lunch box!
Pears: New season European Conference is now in most stores, along with Green Williams from Italy and Rocha from Portugal. Early varieties such as Santa Maria and Carmen are also still available while southern hemisphere stocks dwindle. New season Abaté Fétèl, Comice and Concorde are around the corner!
Strawberries, Blackberries and Raspberries: All the main berries are still home-grown, and quality continues to be good.
Blueberries: Blueberries are mostly from central Europe (Poland, Romania, etc), but the Scottish season is underway as well. All should be fresh, firm and sweet.
Mangoes: The later season Israeli mangoes, such as Kent, are in stores, along with Keitt from Puerto Rica. Israeli mangoes are generally very good due to the relatively short journey time to our shores, but the Puerto Rican fruit can also be excellent (stocks may be affected by the tropical storms). Tasty Israeli varieties such as Maya (Sainsbury’s, Morrisons) and Shelley are also available, and, if you venture to areas with good grocery shops from the sub-continent, you may still find boxes of intensely sweet Honey mangoes.
Melons: All standard melons are in good shape from Spain and Italy, but the season may be shortened by the intense heatwaves of the summer.
Plums: Victoria plums are all but finished and have been replaced by Majorie’s Seedling, a less alluring variety. Similarly, unfortunately, greengages are practically finished for another year.
While there are still many standard plum varieties available, the fact that Spanish Angelino is appearing is an indication that the mainstream season is coming to an end and many stocks will be drawn from cold stores. Angelino are sweet fruit, but will never have the juicy succulence of earlier varieties.
8th September, 2017
©Good Fruit Guide 2017. 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.