The heat-wave in the south may be over, but the sun is still shining in fruit stores across the country. Think homegrown summer fruits in abundance: strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, the cherry season just starting, gooseberries, currants and even a few UK blueberries coming through. Then, there are lashings of Mediterranean cherries, apricots, peaches and nectarines on sale, lovely plum varieties, the first promotions of Spanish melons, and early signs of European grapes. To cap it all, we have the best mangoes of the year, if you know where to look. You really can’t go wrong!
FOR OUR FRUITBOWL, WE WOULD BUY:
- Berries: blueberry, blackberry, raspberry and strawberry
- Mangoes: Indian, Pakistani and Thai varieties
- Stone fruit: Spanish apricots, peaches, nectarines and cherries
- Melons: All from Spain, particularly Charantais
- Mandarins: South African Nova (Clemenvilla)
Melons: All melons are from Spain and should be very satisfying. The prices are falling as volumes increase, and many supermarkets are running promotions at the moment (e.g. Tesco and Morrisons at about £1.00 each).
Particularly delicious are Spanish Charantais melons that are becoming more common (M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s & Tesco). Meanwhile, Tesco has reintroduced the Tangy Twist melon, which has a very interesting flavour, a hint of which is in the name!
Strawberries: As summer progresses, stores are promoting big strawberry packs of 600g or more. This week is no exception, with Waitrose having the cheapest at £3.50/kg (1kg pack). Sainsbury’s have 700g for £3.93/kg, while the rest are priced at around £5.00/kg: expect more and better bargains over the next few weeks.
All strawberries are now home-grown and are wonderfully fresh. Look out for newer varieties with flavour and sweetness such as Driscoll varieties (Driscoll Jubilee perhaps being the best), plus Majestic, Flair and Magnum, among others.
Blackberries: British blackberries are now in all stores. New varieties, such as Driscoll Victoria, have large fruit and are distinctly sweet, though the lack of acids can diminish the flavour experience. Traditionalists may prefer the older varieties such as Incentive, Lochness and Karaka Black which have the old zing!
Raspberries: Raspberries are also principally from UK growers. Look out for especially good varieties such as: Tulameen, Berry Gem, Berry Jewel and Driscoll Maravilla.
Blueberries: Morocco and Spain are still the main source of blueberries, but British Duke are now starting to appear: all marvellous fruit, though the higher priced options will be more plump, sweeter and with better texture.
Mangoes: The sweet, succulent Sindhri mango from Pakistan and Kesar from India are the best varieties available by a country mile, though Nam Dok Mae from Thailand is sublime, if you can find them. Try Asian stores, Chinatown, M&S, Tesco and Morrisons for one or more of these varieties: don’t miss out!
Kent, Keitt, Haden or Pavin from West Africa, Puerto Rica or Columbia are standard fare in supermarkets, but the best of the rest is Maya from Gambia, a very nice, silky smooth variety (in Tesco) or Palmer from Brazil (in Waitrose).
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 and Carioca, are also plentiful, great value and the ideal snack food: sweet and clean-eating.
Cherries: The British cherry season has started with early varieties such as Marchant seen in Tesco and M&S: lovely fruit, but still with a very slight tang.
All other cherries are from Spain, and, more so than most fruit, you get the eating quality for which you pay: the best are just wonderful. However, an excellent and very cheap option has just started: the Picota cherry (Ambrunes) from the Jerta Valley in western Spain. These have no stalks, but are sweet and very difficult to leave once started (£0.98/250g in Tesco; usually also in Asda, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s).
Apricots: Spanish apricots are numerous, should be sumptuous, but are dependent on retailers getting the variety and quality spot-on. We are in their hands, but the quality is still variable.
Some interesting new red apricot varieties are on sale from Israel and Spain, which should have enhanced flavour and sweetness (seen in M&S, Morrisons and Tesco).
Plums: Early varieties from Spain are pretty much finished, so now we have quite a choice of tastier varieties depending on where you shop. Leave these 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. Navel oranges are now mostly from South Africa and will be lighter in taste compared to the previous late Spanish fruit.
Mandarins: Clemenules are the main mandarin from South Africa, mild, flavoursome and sweet. Of particular note, though, is South African Nova (Clemenvilla in Asda), which is a lovely variety and worth buying if you see it (often sold as a ‘Tangerine’).
Grapes: Most stores are selling green varieties, Prime and Early Sweet, from Egypt. These have an attractive texture and sweetness and will gradually be supplemented by Sugraone, the main season variety. Some Sugraone from Spain has appeared in Asda: very early and a little too tangy for most tastes.
Red grapes are mainly Flame from Egypt and are good quality, sweet and crisp. Black grapes are mainly Summer Royal from Mexico.
Pears: Abaté Fétèl, Forelle and Taylors Gold are the pick of pear varieties on sale. However, a new variety called Angélys from New Zealand has a lovely flavour and can be eaten when hard or soft (seen in Morrisons).
Kiwi: The green Hayward variety is from New Zealand (Zespri) or Chile, except for organic which are still from Italy. The sweeter yellow kiwis are Sungold from New Zealand and Jingold (Jintao) from Chile.
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. The green-skinned Fuerte seems to have vanished, but Pinkerton, also an excellent variety, is often sold loose (seen in Morrisons and Waitrose).
Satsumas: The lovely, sweet Peruvian Owari satsuma is available in many shops: an excellent choice.
Figs: Spanish Colar fig is now the main choice in supermarkets. It has an attractive flavour and sweetness: let’s hope the price comes down!
23rd June 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.