Week 46, November 2016
Asda aisles: ‘Merry Christmas Everybody’ blaring out and it only just feels like winter has started! Well, one thing is for sure, the Christmas mandarins have started from Spain: Clemenules are in all stores, deliciously sweet and the archetypal Clementine, which will take us through to January. More fruit news for Christmas to follow!
FOR MY FRUITBOWL, I WOULD BUY:
- Apples: Empire, Rubens, Smitten, Zari and Egremont Russet;
- Pears: Concorde, Comice, Abaté Fétèl and Sweet Sensation;
- Persimmon: Rojo Brilliante and Sharon Fruit from Spain;
- Grapes: Cotton Candy, Sable and Vitoria from Brazil;
- Mandarins: Clemenules clementines;
- Oranges: Navelina Navels from Spain;
- Grapefruit: Florida Pink Ruby Red.
Apples: One of my long-time favourite apples, Empire, is just appearing on sale (Tesco, possibly Morrisons) from USA: so crisp and sweet, with a hint of McIntosh.
French and Italian Pink Lady have finally started, bringing an end to southern hemisphere apple sales and completing the suite of European-grown main-stream varieties on sale in all stores.
Other than the mainstream, my favourite varieties are: Zari (in Lidl, Sainsbury’s), Rubens (in Tesco), Smitten (seen in M&S) and Egremont Russet (in all stores), plus Empire.
Pears: Concorde, crisp and perfumed (in M&S, Sainsburys, Tesco and Waitrose); Comice, the ‘queen of pears’, soft and silky; Rocha, only from Portugal, crisp and sweet, and Abaté Fétèl, the fragrant favourite of Italy (always in Lidl, often in Asda) provide a great range of lovely pears on sale now – wonderful!
Grapefruit: The South African grapefruit season is finished, now superseded by Mediterranean fruit, the best of which, in my view, are Sunrise and White Marsh from Israel. However, for the Naringinphobes amongst us, redemption is at hand: Florida Pink Ruby Red, sweet, juicy, tropical is now on sale (M&S, Tesco) – delicious!
Mangoes: All mangoes are from Brazil, Palmer, Kent and Keitt, the former being normally more flavoursome. Tesco are selling Edward from Peru by the box: new season and slightly different flavour.
Satsumas: Owari satsumas from Spain and Turkey will take us through to January: pick out the nets with larger, more plump and smooth fruit. It’s interesting to see a variety called Dobashi Beni on sale in Waitrose from Turkey: very similar to Owari, but with deeper colour.
Oranges: Sweet Spanish Navelina Navels are in all stores, with South African Valencia Lates (and Midknight) almost finished.
Mandarins: The numerous early season Clementines from Spain have given way to the main variety, Clemenules, which will be available until the new year. This will get sweeter and more irresistible with time, and is the ‘Christmas mandarin’ of tradition. Some stores are selling Oronules which is slightly different, but equally satisfying, and of similar parentage (ex-Fina).
Grapes: There is a real mix of grape varieties and origins on sale: tail-end season grapes from France, Spain, Italy, Greece, and USA, and new season fruit from Brazil and Peru!
My choice: Brazilian Cotton Candy, Sable and Vitoria, and French Muscat black grapes: all full of flavour (French Muscat, a seeded grape, is only in independent outlets and markets, not multiple retailers).
Melons: I’m normally a little circumspect about advice on melons as it’s so difficult to tell if they will be sweet and flavoursome or not. However, I have had some excellent Brazilian Ivory Gaya (aka Sweet Snowball in Tesco Extra) and Yellow Honeydew, so maybe it’s a good season. The Canteloupe, however, seem to be a little crunchy and bland.
Peaches & Nectarines: All peaches and nectarines are now from South Africa and Zimbabwe. They are expensive, but seem to be ripening well and tasting good.
Persimmons: The main Spanish persimmon, Rojo Brilliante, is now widely available and at its correct, delicious eating quality. As an alternative, Sainsbury’s are selling the flatter-shaped Sharon Fruit (aka Kakhi) as well, which will be equally sweet.
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.
Plums: All plums on sale are late-season varieties, mostly stored. Angelino 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).
©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. 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.