FRUIT NEWS THIS WEEK:
Week 44, November 2016
Seasons continue to change and I had a reminder of how the fruit trade sometimes gets it wrong: being too hasty to get to market. Itâ€™s a lesson that the very first fruit may not always be quite ready: a bit acidic, a bit starchy, a bit stubborn in ripening. Whatâ€™s to be done? Well, knowing the seasons is a good start, and it helps to know where to look for information!
FOR MY FRUITBOWL, I WOULD BUY:
- Apples: Rubens, Smitten, Zari and Egremont Russet from UK;
- Pears: AbatÃ© FÃ©tÃ¨l, Concorde, Comice and Sweet Sensation;
- Mango: Osteen from Spain;
- Satsuma: Okitsu and Owari from Croatia and Spain;
- Grapes: Sable and Vitoria from Brazil, Muscat from France;
- Oranges: Cambria Navels and Valencia Lates (Delta, Midknight) from South Africa;
- Melons: Sweet Snowball from Brazil.
Apples: French and Italian Jazz have now superseded stocks from New Zealand, so itâ€™s now only Pink Lady flying the southern hemisphere flags.
My favourite apple varieties are: Zari (in Lidl, Sainsburyâ€™s), Rubens (in Tesco), Smitten (in M&S, Tesco) and Egremont Russet (in all stores).
Whichever is your favourite variety, I counted a record 35 across all retailers in my area, 19 of which were from British orchards: there will not be a better time for choice!
Pears: New this week is Sweet Sensation (in Sainsburys), a red version of Comice and of similar eating quality.
There are some lovely pears on sale now â€“ possibly the best time of year for them: AbatÃ© FÃ©tÃ¨l, the fragrant favourite of Italy, (always in Lidl, often in Asda, Sainsburys); Concorde, crisp and perfumed (seen in M&S, Sainsburys, Tesco and Waitrose); Comice, the â€˜queen of pearsâ€™, soft and silky; and Rocha, only from Portugal, crisp and sweet.
Mangoes: Osteen, the hugely sweet and plump mango from Spain, is still available (seen in Morrisons, Tesco, Waitrose). All other mangoes are from Brazil, mainly Palmer and Keitt, the former normally being more flavoursome.
Satsumas: Retailers are selling Okitsu and Owari satsumas. Owari is the later-season variety, so should be slightly sweeter. I love satsumas, and always pick out the bags with larger, more plump, smoother fruit.
Oranges: New season Spanish Navelina Navels are in Tesco, but expect quite a tang to the flavour at this early stage. For guaranteed sweetness and low acids, stick to South African oranges: the best are Cambria Navels (M&S, Sainsburys, Waitrose), but Valencia Lates (Delta Seedless, Midknight) are also lovely at this time of year.
Mandarins: Nadorcott, Mor and Orri are coming to an end, but still of good quality from Australia, Chile, Peru and South Africa: very sweet and quite intense (seen in M&S, Morrisons, Sainsburys, Waitrose).
There are many new season Clementine varieties from Spain which are lighter and zingier in flavour: Clemenrubi, Marisol, Oronules with the main variety, Clemenules, just getting going. Clemenules will take us through Christmas and will get sweeter and more irresistible.
Grapes: There is a real mix of grape varieties on sale as the sun gradually sets on the European and US seasons. We have grapes from France, Spain, Italy, Greece, USA, Brazil and Peru!
Fruit from Peru will be very fresh (perhaps too fresh!), while grapes from Brazil should be pretty reliable by now. European and American fruit will be mixed: some still good, others a bit tired from storage – a bit of a lottery!
My choice: Brazilian Sable and Vitoria, French Muscat black grapes: full of flavour (French Muscat, a seeded grape, is only in independent outlets and markets, not multiple retailers).
An interesting, though limited option is Italia Seeded from Italy (in Waitrose). This has seeds, but has a beautiful perfumed, muscat-like flavour. Ironically, Italia Seeded is regarded as a cheap grape on the continent, and consumed in vast quantities, but retailers have spurned it in UK in favour of seedless varieties. It means that the small volumes imported by Waitrose turn out to be very expensive on the shelf. Pity! Who’s afraid of a pip?
Melons: Ivory Gaya (aka Sweet Snowball) from Brazil (in Tesco Extra) is probably the sweetest melon available.
Avocado: With most avocadoes coming from South Africa, South America or the Caribbean, comprising late-harvested Hass, an alternative is green-skinned Ettinger from the new Israeli season, just starting (in Waitrose). This will be quite different, with a lighter flavour and density.
KiwiBerry: A rather odd shaped kiwiberry called Nergi is available from Portugal (in Lidl & M&S): very tasty.
Peaches & Nectarines: All peaches and nectarines are now from South Africa and Zimbabwe.
Persimmons: The main Spanish persimmon, Rojo Brilliante, is now widely available and should be improving in eating quality (a couple of weeks ago, this was an example of fruit coming to market too soon).
Cherimoya: Cherimoya from Spain, variety Fino de Jete, is one of the very flavoursome fruit available, but only in some Asda stores, and independent grocers. Pity.
Berries: We are at the very end of the British and European seasons for strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, and at the beginning of southern hemisphere supplies. Similarly, blueberries are now exclusively from South America or South Africa. Quality should be good, prices will be higher, but, as a generalisation, flavour will not be comparable to our summer fruit, as varieties and harvest maturity are selected for long, arduous journeys.
Plums: Late-season Angelino plums are in all stores: cheap, but fairly average in sweetness, texture and flavour. Higher quality Metis Tonic and September Yummy are sweeter and more succulent, though a little dearer (seen in Asda, M&S, Morrisons, Tesco).
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.