Week 20, 2016
THIS WEEK â€“ More New Than Old:
Itâ€™s late May and the tipping point between seasons has finally swung behind the new and freshly harvested fruit.Â Spanish melons, blueberries, peaches, nectarines, cherries and apricots; and home-grown blackberries, raspberries and strawberries are all becoming abundant in the stores. In addition, delicious Indian mangoes, and southern hemisphere avocadoes, apples, pears and mandarins are widely on sale. Itâ€™s a great change-point in the fruit year, so look out for the new and enjoy the fresher and more fragrant flavours.
FOR MY FRUITBOWL, I WOULD BUY:
- Blueberries, particularly Blue One, Kimba, Kirra, Celeste
- Sweet Driscoll Victoria Blackberries
- Satsumas: South African Mihowase or Peruvian Okitsu
- Indian mangoes: Alphonse or Kesar
- Abate FÃ©tÃ¨l, Taylors Gold or Forelle pears
- Smitten apples from New Zealand
- Green-skin avocados: Fuerte or Pinkerton from South Africa
Blackberries: Blackberries are not top of most peopleâ€™s list, but they have power-packed flavour and are a great addition to many fruit dishes. There is now a clear choice between traditional flavoursome, but slightly tart varieties and new sweet varieties. For the former, look out for home-grown Lochness and Lochtay, and for the latter, the relatively new Driscoll Victoria (Lidl, M&S, Tesco and Waitrose).
Blueberries: Blueberries are abundant, all from Spain or Morocco, and of many varieties. The quality should be excellent whatever you buy, but some of the better varieties include Celeste, Kimba, Kirra, Rocio and Blue One.
Mangoes: Itâ€™s such a great time of year for mangoes, and the big news is that Tesco are finally stocking the best of the best from India: look out for boxes of delicious Kesar in larger stores.
Other varieties to target are Indian Alphonse and Badami (in Asian groceries); Thai Nam Dok Mae (M&S and Asda), and Amelie from Burkina Faso (sometimes in Lidl and Tesco).
Satsumas: Among the sweetest Satsumas available are the Okitsu from Peru, which are just appearing in stores (seen in Tesco). Otherwise, enjoy their metallic juiciness with the main variety from South Africa, Mihowase.
Pears: Southern hemisphere growers send us a great choice of pears at this time of year. These include the crisp, sweet Forelle and Abate FÃ©tÃ¨l (now in many stores) from South Africa and Chile; southern hemisphere Comice, and, recently, New Zealand Taylors Gold (in Waitrose).
Apples: The introduction of new season fruit from the southern hemisphere is gathering pace with Braeburn, Cox, Jazz and Pink Lady now available from New Zealand and South Africa. One of my favourites is the deliciously crisp Smitten from New Zealand (M&S, Waitrose and Morrisons).
Strawberries: Virtually all strawberries are now from English growers, which is great for quality because of short lead-times from farm to shelf. With so many varieties on sale, it is difficult to be categorical about the best, but keep an eye on the variety name on the packaging and remember those you like best.
Mandarins: Predominant supply is still from the Mediterranean with late Nadorcott, Orri and Ortanique, but the first South African clementines are arriving in stores, Clemenules and Esbal. These are a completely different eating experience being sweet, light, fragrant and with a slight tang.
An extraordinary new mandarin called Hadas appeared on the shelves in Tesco this week from Israel. I know nothing about it, but it tastes as though it has grapefruit in its parentage: promising!
Peaches, Nectarines and Apricots: The summer stone fruit season is gathering steam from Spain, but remember that it is still early days and the varieties on sale have matured quickly on the tree and will have a slight tanginess, though should be pleasant in their freshness and fragrance.
Oranges: Most oranges on sale are the slightly acidic, chewy Valencia Late (similar are Maroc Late, Nucellar, Midknight and Delta) from Spain and Morocco. However, there are some sweet, late Navels still available in many stores from Spain, such as Powell, Barnfield and Chislett â€“ check the variety stated on labels!
Plums: All plums are the dense, rather crunchy late varieties from the southern hemisphere, Angelino and FlavorFall. New season plums from Spain will be arriving soon!
Grapes: We are in one of the two â€˜lullâ€™ periods of grapes in the year as we wait for the Mediterranean season to start from Egypt. Prices have risen and choice is limited to Crimson, Thompson and Autumn Royal from Chile and India: these are sweet enough, but limited in flavour. For those with deeper pockets, the delicious Sable and Muscat Beauty from Chile are still available in M&S and Waitrose. Costco are selling Mexican Flame Seedless red grapes, which is a fresher alternative.