Week 12-13, March 2017
Fabulous oranges and mandarins, Mediterranean blueberries and strawberries, new season pears, and the first signs of change in choice of mangoes are all highlights at the end of March. As always, flavour can be found with the Good Fruit Guide!
FOR MY FRUITBOWL, I WOULD BUY:
- Blueberries: Kirra and Mayra from Morocco;
- Mandarins: Nadorcott and Orri from Spain, Portugal, Morocco and Israel;
- Oranges: Spanish late Navels, such as Rohde;
- Pears: Abaté Fétèl and Comice from South Africa and Chile;
- Mango: Nam Dok Mae from Thailand;
- Plums: African Beauty from South Africa;
- Grapes: Sweet Celebration, Sable and Muscat Beauty from South Africa and Chile.
Grapes: Grapes from Chile and South Africa are still good quality, and there is still a decent choice of varieties in stores.
For real flavour, rather than just sweetness and texture, it’s still Sable (most stores) and Muscat Beauty (M&S, Morrisons) that do the job.
For great texture and sweetness, seek-out Sweet Celebration: the best are pink in colour, so avoid the darker red fruit which can be a bit soft.
Oranges: Cheaper Valencia Lates are in some stores from Spain and Egypt: usually juicy and flavoursome, if not a little chewy and possibly a bit tangy at this stage. However, don’t miss out on late season Navels from Spain: these are really sweet at the moment, particularly varieties such as Rohde (seen in Sainsbury’s and Waitrose).
Mandarins: Nadorcott is available in all stores from Spain, Morocco and Portugal: a great mandarin, with depth of flavour. Orri is also still available (M&S, Tesco, Waitrose): delicious.
Berries: The Spanish strawberry season is in full swing, and the first British fruit are in stores, a real sign of Spring! For flavour, look out for some of the new varieties such as Viva, Victory or the Driscoll types, Lusa, Magdelana, Marquis.
Moroccan blueberries are now established in many stores: look out for the deliciously plump Kirra and Mayra (read the label for the variety name).
Figs: Evita from South Africa is still widely available: a lovely variety, but buy carefully as the quality is variable as the season draws to an end (look for uniform dark colour, but without signs of pale lesions on the fruit).
Grapefruit: Sweet, juicy Florida Pink Ruby Red is still in good condition, though beware some poor, stored fruit (buy nothing with any brown areas around the stem).
Plums: South African plums are good value and plentiful. The standard variety Laetitia and Larry Ann are good varieties, if left to soften properly. For more reliable sweetness, look for African Delight, on sale in most stores.
Peaches & Nectarines: Varieties of peaches and nectarines from South Africa and Chile are late-season harvest, so will be quite dense.
Mangoes: Brazilian Palmer, normally a flavoursome variety, and Keitt are now supporting availability of Peruvian Kent as standard varieties in all store. However, the first high quality mangoes are arriving: Nam Dok Mae from Thailand (in M&S): sublime!
Pears: Almost the full complement of South African pears are now on sale. For the best eating quality, look out for Abaté Fétèl and Comice (M&S and Waitrose), the former is also from Chile (in Lidl).
Melons: Standard melons are now mainly from Costa Rica and Honduras, though significant supplies are still coming from Brazil. The Ivory Gaya melon is now being sold in both Tesco (aka Sweet Snowball) and Waitrose (aka Matisse): a cut above the rest for sweetness.