Week 22, June 2016
An editorial in the Telegraph on fruit is a rare phenomenon, but last week there was a short commentary on the lack of lemons in the world! Indeed, the effect of reduced supply from Argentina and South Africa can easily be seen in shops with most lemons on sale being the little-favoured Verna from Spain: a rather ugly, thick skinned specimen. The shortage is caused, in part, by bad weather in Argentina, but also by the choice of South African growers to sell elsewhere due to EU regulations about a lemon disease that canâ€™t actually establish in Europe: one that would get Brexit fans very excited.
The main seasonal news is the gathering pace of the Mediterranean grape season with red and green varieties from Egypt. Also, there is the consolidation of the European summer fruit seasons of berries, melons, peaches, nectarines, apricots, cherries, and, just starting, Spanish plums.
Virtually all easy peeler citrus is now from South Africa and Peru, and the switch over of apples and pears is advancing with plenty of new season fruit from the southern hemisphere. Early Pakistani mangoes have also been spotted, as have Spanish figs.
The only major new season yet to kick-in is that of South African Navel oranges. In the meantime, we make do with Spanish and Moroccan Valencia Lates (and variants), plus a rare few late Spanish Navels.
FOR MY FRUITBOWL, I WOULD BUY:
- Blueberries, particularly Blue One, Kirra, Celeste, Corona, Driscoll Stella Blue
- English strawberries
- Satsumas: South African Mihowase or Peruvian Okitsu
- Indian or Pakistani mangoes
- Abate FÃ©tÃ¨l, Taylors Gold or Forelle pears
- Smitten and Gala apples from New Zealand
- Green-skin avocados: Fuerte or Pinkerton from South Africa
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, Kirra, Corona, Driscoll Stella Blue and Blue One.
Mangoes: Mangoes from Pakistan have been spotted in Morrisons (variety Dusheri), which signals the start of the next phase of the South Asian season. There are also some interesting mangoes from West Africa, including Maya from The Gambia (in Tesco), usually delicious; and decent quality Kent and Keitt from Mali and Ivory Coast.
Strawberries: Virtually all strawberries are now from English growers, which is great for quality because of short lead-times from farm to shelf. Not all varieties are so sweet, but some are good, so try them before adding sugar!
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, Incentive and Karaka Black, and for the latter, the relatively new Driscoll Victoria (Lidl, M&S, Tesco and Waitrose).
Peaches, Nectarines, Cherries and Apricots: The summer stone fruit season is full steam ahead from Spain. 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. A reliably sweet option is the flat peach, Carioca, in most stores.
Plums: Dense, late varieties from the southern hemisphere, Stav, Angelino and FlavorFall, are still in some stores, but the new Spanish season is about to get underway. New season plums will be very different!
Grapes: The Mediterranean season from Egypt is now properly underway with red grapes Flame and Starlight, and green Early Sweet and Prime being widely available. These are supplemented by some tail-end Chilean and Indian grapes, and samples from Mexico.
Pears: The great choice of southern hemisphere pears continues, including the crisp, sweet Forelle and Abate FÃ©tÃ¨l (now in many stores) from South Africa; southern hemisphere Comice, and New Zealand Taylors Gold (in M&S and Waitrose).
Apples: The introduction of new season fruit from the southern hemisphere continues with Granny Smith from South Africa in most stores â€“ generally sweeter than the equivalent from France.
Braeburn, Gala, Cox, Jazz and Pink Lady are now mostly new season fruit. One of my favourites is the deliciously crisp and sweet Smitten from New Zealand (in M&S, Waitrose and Morrisons), but Iâ€™m generally a fan of New Zealand apples â€“ such a great growing area.
Satsumas: Among the sweetest Satsumas available are the Okitsu from Peru, which are appearing in some stores (seen in Morrisons and Tesco).
Mandarins: Save for the odd Spanish Ortanique, all Clementines are now from South Africa, being Marisol, Clemenules and Oroval. These are a different eating experience to old season Mediterranean fruit: sweet, light, fragrant and with a slight tang.
Oranges: Virtually all oranges on sale are the sweet, but slightly acidic and chewy Valencia Late (similar are Maroc Late, Nucellar, Midknight and Delta) from Spain, Cyprus and Morocco. A few sweet, Spanish late Navels are still available in Tesco, Sainsbury and Waitrose, such as Powell, Barnfield and Chislett, but not for long.
Â©Good Fruit Guide 2016. 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. Â 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.