Week 24, June 2016
If you walk into a supermarket or greengrocer this week, you will probably be confronted by stacks of strawberries or watermelons, but look beyond and there is any amount of wonderful fruit on sale at this time of year.
FOR MY FRUITBOWL, I WOULD BUY:
- Spanish peaches, including flat peaches
- Mandarin/Tangerine: South African Nova
- Gambian, Indian or Pakistani mangoes: Maya, Kesar or Sindhri
- Lychee from Mexico, variety Mauritius
- Blueberries, particularly Kirra, Celeste, Arana, Blue Three
- Raspberries from UK and Spain
- British strawberries, particularly Driscoll Jubilee
Peaches & Nectarines: The good mid-season varieties of peach and nectarine are arriving from Spain, so sweetness and taste should be more assured. Flat peaches, Carioca and UFO, are reliable, but standard peaches will beat them for flavour and succulence.
Mandarins: The delicious Nova mandarin from South Africa is available in most stores: dense and sweet. Clementines are also good: Clemenules, Esbal and Marisol.
Mangoes: We are in mango heaven in June! Pakistani Sindhri and Indian Kesar are wonderful, full of flavour (Asian greengrocers, Tesco); Gambian Maya, sweet and silky (Sainsbury and Waitrose); Nam Dok Mae from Thailand, elegant and perfumed (M&S, Asda): what more could you want?
In addition, the standard Kent and Keitt are cheap and delivering good quality from Puerto Rico, Mali, Burkina Faso, Guinea and Ivory Coast. Excellent!
Lychee: The Mexican season brings lychee back on to the shelves of most bigger stores: itâ€™s a luxury, but always guaranteed to excite the taste buds.
Blueberries: Blueberries are abundant and cheap, mostly from Spain, but with the first British fruit coming through. With abundance comes some over-supply and thence poor quality, so watch out for signs of shrivel and softness. Otherwise the fruit is excellent, particularly some of the better varieties: Celeste, Kirra, Arana, Blue Three.
Raspberries: In common with other berries, raspberries are plentiful, from the traditional tangy Glen Ample and Karaka Black to the new, sweet varieties such as Tulameen and Berry Gem: full of flavour.
Strawberries: British growers excel at strawberries, and quality should now be assured. Not all varieties are so sweet, but many, such as Driscoll Jubilee are good, so try them before adding sugar!
Blackberries: Blackberries are a clear choice between traditional tart and flavoursome and new, sweet varieties. For the former, look out for home-grown Lochness, Incentive and Karaka Black, and for the latter, the recent Driscoll Victoria bred in California (Asda, Lidl, M&S, Tesco and Waitrose).
Plums: The new Mediterranean season is underway with early varieties. Most stores sell Spanish Red Beauty, which is mild with a tangy skin, but there are several other early varieties to try such as Vania from Israel and Royal Rosa, Rose Sweet and Suplum 41.
Cherries: There is an abundance of cherryâ€™s in stores from Spain, and prices are coming down.
Apricots: Hit and miss! The art of Apricotics must be pursued with enthusiasm, as there are some wonderful apricots out there, but plenty to disappoint as well. Best so far: Tomcot from Turkey and Flodea from Spain.
Kiwi: The New Zealand Zespri Kiwi season is now fully underway in stores, with both the green Hayward and yellow Sungold widely available: sweet!
Grapes: Most grapes are from Egypt: red grapes Flame and Starlight, and green Early Sweet, Prime and Sugraone being in all stores. Black grapes are Summer Royal from Mexico, and Sable (only spotted in M&S so far).
Pears: The great choice of southern hemisphere pears continues, including the crisp, sweet Forelle and Abate FÃ©tÃ¨l (now in many stores); Comice and Taylors Gold from New Zealand (in M&S, Sainsburys and Waitrose).
Apples: European apples still on sale are Bramleys in all stores, English Gala (Sainsburys), Cameo (Waitrose), Dutch Kanzi (Asda, Sainsburys and Tesco), Belgium Evelina (Morrisons and Waitrose), French Golden Delicious, and Italian Red Delicious (M&S and Waitrose).
However, pretty much all other apples are now fresh from New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina and Chile: Braeburn, Gala, Cox, Jazz, Pink Lady, Smitten, Granny Smith, etc.
Satsumas: Among the sweetest Satsumas available are the Owari from Peru, which are also good from South Africa.
Oranges: All oranges on sale are Valencia Lates (similar are Maroc Late, Nucellar, Midknight and Delta) from Spain, Cyprus and Morocco. However, the first South African Navels are appearing which offer a sweeter, finer eating experience: look at the labels to find them!