New seasons of every fruit type are now underway, the last being that of Spanish plums which takeover from tired Angelino and Flavorfall from South Africa and Chile. So, new order follows old with the relentless march of time, which is more than can be said for our politicians who seem to have no order at all. Let fruit with flavour help you through these uncertain times!
FOR OUR FRUITBOWL, WE WOULD BUY:
- Berries: blueberry, blackberry, raspberry and strawberry
- Mango: Indian, Pakistani and Thai varieties
- Lychee: sublime exotic flavour from Mexico
- Stone fruit: Spanish apricots, peaches, nectarines and cherries
- Melon: All from Spain
- Mandarin: South African Nova
- Apple: Smitten from New Zealand
- Pear: Abaté Fétèl and Taylors Gold
Strawberries: All strawberries are now home-grown and are wonderfully fresh. Look out for newer varieties with flavour and sweetness such as Driscoll Lusa, Driscoll Elizabeth, Majestic, Flair and Magnum, among others.
Many stores are selling bigger packs at decent prices (usually of the older varieties), e.g. Waitrose at £3.50/kg, Aldi at £3.51/kg, Sainsbury’s at £3.57/kg, etc. Nearly time for strawberry jam?
Blackberries: British blackberries are getting underway and many big stores are offering choice between old and new varieties. The latter, such as Driscoll Victoria, have large fruit and are distinctly sweet, though may disappoint traditionalists as the lack of acids can diminish the flavour experience. Lochness and Karaka Black have the old, familiar zing!
Raspberries: British raspberries are available alongside those from Morocco, Spain and Portugal. Look out for especially good varieties such as: Tulameen, Berry Gem, Berry Jewel and Driscoll Maravilla.
Blueberries: Fresh Moroccan and Spanish blueberries are marvellous fruit, a great snack, and a perfect substitute for sweets. All varieties have something to offer, but there are many new and sweeter varieties such as Driscoll Stella Blue, Driscoll Cielo, Kirra, Mayra, Arana, and Celeste, which are available in most stores (look at the label for the variety name).
Mangoes: The sweet, succulent Sindhri mango from Pakistan is now available alongside those from India (Alphonso and Kesar) and the Nam Dok Mae from Thailand (try Asian stores, Chinatown, M&S and occasionally Tesco and Morrisons). These are the best varieties for flavour.
Most supermarkets sell Kent or Keitt from West Africa or Columbia as standard fare, but Tesco are now selling Maya from Gambia, which is a very nice, silky smooth variety.
If you happen upon a Wholefoods store (7 in London, plus Glasgow and Cheltenham), you may find the Champagne® mango on sale. This is the famous and delicious Ataulfo mango of Mexico, rarely seen in this country and well worth a try (at £2.49 each).
Lychee: For incomparable flavour, try Mexican lychee (spotted in M&S and Sainsbury’s). You have to pay a high price (£12-13 per kg), but they are a real treat.
Longan: Vietnamese Longan (usually the preserve of SE Asian groceries and Chinatown) are still on sale in Sainsbury’s: exotic!
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!
Peaches and Nectarines: Peaches and nectarines are plentiful from Spain, and prices are good, but varieties may still have that tanginess of early to mid-season harvest.
Flat peaches such as Carioca and Zumba, are also plentiful, good value and the ideal snack food: sweet and clean-eating!
Cherries: All cherries are from Spain, and, more so than most fruit, you get the eating quality for which you pay: the best are just delicious.
Melons: All melons are now from Spain (baring remnants from Central America) and should be flavoursome and sweet, though prices are still to fall with the peak season in July and August.
Mandarins: Clementines are now from South Africa or Argentina and are mild, flavoursome and sweet. Of particular note is South African Nova, which is a lovely variety and worth buying if you see it (spotted in Aldi, Morrisons and Waitrose, but sold in most stores).
Apples: Smitten remains our favoured variety from the southern hemisphere. Most mainstream varieties are now from South Africa, New Zealand or Chile and should be of excellent quality. Some apples from last year’s northern hemisphere crop are still on sale in many stores, so check the labels to make sure you know what you are buying.
Pears: Abaté Fétèl, Forelle and Taylors Gold are the pick of pear varieties on sale.
Kiwi: Most stores are now selling the green Hayward variety from New Zealand (Zespri) as Italian stocks dwindle. Chilean Hayward are also available, as are the sweeter Sungold yellow kiwis, also from New Zealand.
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.
Avocado: The common Hass avocado is principally from Peru or South Africa at the moment: quality is wonderful. You may notice that flesh colour is lighter than the old season Spanish Hass as the new fruit have had less time to develop a high oil content. Also look out for Pinkerton from South Africa, which is often sold loose and tends to stay green for longer (seen in Aldi, Morrisons and Sainsbury’s).
Satsumas: One of either of the delicious, tangy, sweet, juicy Mihowase satsuma (from South Africa) or the lovely Peruvian Okitsu satsuma is available in all shops.
Figs: While South African, Brazilian and Indian figs are in many stores, the new season Spanish Colar fig has now stared: a slender, early variety with an attractive flavour and sweetness.
Grapes: The new Egyptian season is underway at last and most stores are selling green varieties such as Prime and Early Sweet. These have good fresh stems, and should have an attractive texture and sweetness with a slight tang of the new harvest.
Red grapes are still dominated by Crimson and Scarlotta from Chile, though the first Flame from Egypt is appearing. Black grapes are mainly Summer Royal from Mexico.
For grape varieties with real flavour, Vitoria and Cotton Candy are still available from Brazil (in M&S, Morrisons, Tesco and Waitrose).
Plums: The first varieties from Spain are now in all stores, mainly Suplum and Red Heart. Leave these at room temperature to ripen, soften and darken to get the best eating quality: they are tangy and sweet with lightness of flavour.
9th June 2017
©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.