Summer melons, summer stone fruit and summer berries: abundant, at their peak and good value, all have to be in your flavoursome fruit basket at this time of year – no excuse! However, don’t forget the other gems on offer to excite the taste buds, such as Pakistani mangoes, new Sweet Green kiwis, Tangold and Nadorcott mandarins, and lovely grapes from the Mediterranean.
FOR OUR FRUITBOWL, WE WOULD BUY:
- Berries: blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, strawberry and gooseberry
- Stone fruit: apricots, peaches, nectarines and cherries
- Melons: Spanish melons, particularly Charantais
- Mangoes: Pakistani Chaunsa
- Oranges: Spanish and Moroccan Valencia Lates for juicing
Strawberries: It’s Wimbledon and everyone thinks of strawberries, and they should be good as we are in peak season. Standard packs are not at Wimbledon prices: expect to pay around £5/kg. These will not be the best varieties, often a bit tasteless, but good with a sprinkle of sugar, in recipes or with other fruit. Newer, sweeter varieties do get into these packs though, so look out for the Driscoll types, as an example.
Pay a bit more for flavour and sweetness such Driscoll Jubilee, Majestic, Flair and Magnum, among others.
Blackberries: All stores are selling British blackberries and many offer a choice of the new sweet (though sometimes lacking in defining acids) varieties, such as Driscoll Victoria, IN1 and Black Magic. Traditionalists may prefer the older, and cheaper, varieties such as Obsidian, Lochness and Karaka Black which have a bit of zing!
Raspberries: Raspberries are also all from UK growers. Look out for especially good varieties such as: Tulameen, Berry Gem, Berry Jewel and Driscoll Maravilla.
Blueberries: Blueberries from Spain are diminishing as British and French fruit take over. These should be firm and sweet, so be disappointed if the berries are soft or tasteless (keep in the fridge and, as all berries, eat within a couple of days).
Gooseberries: Not everyone’s cup of tea, but such a flavoursome fruit, particularly for poaching, flans and tarts or jam. They are probably best as a homegrown fruit, but most supermarkets sell them by the punnet during their short season (which is now). Perhaps try a nice New Zealand Sauvignons Blanc as an alternative!
Peaches and Nectarines: Peaches and nectarines are plentiful from Spain. Prices are good, and with mid-season harvest, the fruit should be sweet, flavoursome and at its best: time to buy!
Flat peaches, such as UFO, are also plentiful, great value and the ideal snack food: sweet and clean-eating.
Cherries: British cherries are abundant and lovely quality. Prices are also good, though variable: best offer seen in the last few days was in M&S – £5 for a delightful 1kg tray of Kordia.
The Picota cherry (Ambrunes) from the Jerte Valley in western Spain, is the other option. These are lovely and sweet, have no stalks, and are great value at £1 a 250g punnet (£4/kg): well worth trying, if you haven’t already (sold by most standard supermarkets).
Apricots: Spanish and French apricots are available everywhere: as ever, we are dependent on retailers getting the variety and quality right, but they should be excellent.
Melons: All melons are from Spain and should be very satisfying. Particularly delicious are Spanish Charantais melons that are becoming more common (M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s & Tesco). Also try Tangy Twist and Sweet Snowball melons in Tesco: both a little different.
Mangoes: Chaunsa mango from Pakistan is probably the main ‘flavour’ mango available now (by the box in Morrisons and Asian groceries), though you may still find Kesar from India. Don’t be put off by signs of a wrinkly peel, as the flesh beneath is still wonderful.
Kent, Keitt, or Haden from West Africa, Puerto Rica or Dominican Republic are standard fare in most supermarkets.
Plums: Tasty mid-season varieties are now on offer, though there are many different varieties depending on where you shop. Leave them at room temperature to ripen, soften and darken to get the best eating quality: they should be soft and sweet.
Oranges: Good value and tasty Valencia Late oranges from Spain and Morocco (aka Midknight, Maroc Late and Delta) are in all stores: excellent for juicing.
Mandarins: The excellent Nadorcott (or Tangold) mandarin from South Africa and Peru will start to appear in stores over the next weeks: a very flavoursome variety, which will start with a bit of a tang.
Grapes: Ralli from Spain, a red grape, are in Asda, though still a little ‘early’ for the sweet-toothed among us. Black grape, Midnight Beauty, also from Spain, is in most stores and is good and sweet.
Egyptian red and green grapes are still very good and more certain to be sweet. The main green grape, Sugraone is now in stores, as is Superior, and they look wonderful.
For grapes with flavour, try Strawberry from Spain (seen in Asda and M&S) or Vitoria from Brazil (M&S, Morrisons and Waitrose). There is some availability of Sable from Egypt, worth trying as it’s normally one of the most flavoursome varieties, but it may still be early days for Egyptian growers.
Kiwi: A new green kiwi variety called Sweet Green has suddenly appeared from New Zealand (in M&S and Waitrose), which is an interesting option for those who dislike the acidity of the standard Hayward green kiwi.
The yellow kiwis, Sungold from New Zealand and Jingold (Jintao) from Chile, are also the sweeter alternative.
Pears: Abaté Fétèl, Forelle and Taylors Gold are the pick of pear varieties on sale. Forelle is best when crisp, so don’t let them dwell in the fruit bowl for more than 3-4 days.
Persimmon / Sharon fruit: South African Triumph, a fruit with lovely flavour and huge sweetness, is widely available. Eat them when crisp or soft, peeled or unpeeled: they taste better than they look.
Avocado: The common Hass avocado is principally from Peru or South Africa at the moment: quality is wonderful.
9th July 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.