Easter holidays, beautiful Spring weather, the most important Christian celebration, thoughts of chocolate eggs, thoughts of Syria and Sweden: as always, the world is full of contradiction. The only course of action is to believe in the innate goodness that is our essence, and enjoy good fruit as an embodiment of that essential spirit in the world!
FOR MY FRUITBOWL, I WOULD BUY:
- Blueberries: Kirra and Mayra from Morocco;
- Strawberries: New varieties from Spain and UK;
- Pears: Concorde, Abaté Fétèl and Comice from South Africa and Chile;
- Mangoes: New season Palmer, Amelie and Nam Dok Mae;
- Mandarins: Nadorcott and Orri;
- Grapes: Sable and Melody from South Africa and Chile.
Strawberries: The British season is really getting going with the good weather, and most stores give customers the choice of home-grown or Spanish fruit, with some from Morocco as well. There are quite a few promotions of Spanish and Moroccan strawberries, with Asda and Tesco being the cheapest at £3.33 and £3.38/kg respectively (though with less flavoursome varieties).
A feature of this new season is the emergence of a number of new varieties such as Viva, Victory and the Driscoll types, Lusa, Magdelana, Marquis. These tend to have been bred with flavour and sweetness in mind, as well as benefits for the grower and retailer, so will be interesting to try.
Blueberries: Moroccan blueberries are now established in most stores, with early season Spanish fruit making up the rest: look out for the deliciously plump Kirra and Mayra (read the label for the variety name).
Pears: Sainsbury’s are selling South African Concorde pears; and look out for Abaté Fétèl and Comice (Lidl, M&S and Waitrose): all delicious.
Mangoes: Most stores are selling South American mangoes, but try Brazilian Palmer for the most flavoursome (seen in Tesco & Waitrose).
The West African and SE Asian seasons have started, so some variation will be injected into our choice. Amelie from Burkina Faso has been spotted (in Lidl), which is a really perfumed and silky smooth variety: worth trying for flavour, though sweetness needs to improve over the next week or two.
Nam Dok Mae from Thailand (sometimes in M&S, or ethnic groceries) is sublime!
Mandarins: Nadorcott, Tangold and Orri from Spain, Morocco and Portugal are the main varieties available in stores: great mandarins, but losing their acids and becoming very sweet by now.
Greater depth of flavour can be found in very late mandarins such as Spring Sunshine, if you can find them (seen in Tesco).
Grapes: Choice of grape varieties is diminishing as we enter the ‘in between’ time of supply in the switch from southern to northern hemispheres. Of fruit from Chile and South Africa, it is mostly the standard varieties on shelves (e.g. Crimson, Scarlotta, Autumn Royal, Thompson Seedless), but the delicious Sable and the sweet, crisp Melody black grapes are still on sale in pockets and worth seeking out.
Of green grapes, only Thompson Seedless is available, either from Chile or India.
M&S and Waitrose shoppers can still be treated to a pretty splendid selection: try Muscat Beauty, Sweet Joy, Sweet Sapphire and Adora Seedless for something a little different.
Avocado: The green-skinned Pinkerton from Israel and Fuerte from Peru are the only alternatives to Hass from Israel and Spain: though all are in good shape and reasonably priced.
Oranges: Late season Navels from Spain, such as Powell (Sainsbury’s) and Rohde (Waitrose) are really sweet at the moment, and LaneLates should still be good. A number of retailers are selling Navels at good values: e.g. Sainsbury’s 10 for £1.75, Morrisons 9 for £1.77.
M&S, Morrisons and Waitrose are selling cheaper Valencia Lates from Spain and Egypt: usually juicy and flavoursome, if not a little chewy and possibly a bit tangy at this stage.
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).
Waitrose are selling Black Mission figs from Chile, which are very tasty, if not pricey (£2.50 on promotion), while M&S and Sainsbury’s have opted for Brown Turkey from India.
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 late season varieties, such as Angelino and Southern Belle, are dominating. These tend to be quite dense and lacking in succulence, though should be sweet.
For better texture, look for Ruby Star and African Delight, on sale in most stores.
Peaches & Nectarines: There are no peaches to be found at the moment: the new Mediterranean season starts soon. Varieties of nectarines from South Africa and Chile are late-season harvest, so will be quite dense.
©Good Fruit Guide 2017. 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.