Week 38, September 2016
The fruits of the harvest are upon us! New apples, new pears, new mangoes, new persimmons and new Satsumas are all arriving on store shelves to add to such late summer delights as Bursa figs, Mediterranean grapes and the last greengages and Charantais melons: a fruit choice for everyone.
FOR MY FRUITBOWL, I WOULD BUY:
- Apples: Freshly harvested varieties such as Zari, Scrumptious and Estivale
- Figs: Turkish Bursa
- Mango: Osteen from Spain; Keitt from Israel
- Satsuma: Iwasaki from Spain
- Grapes: Cotton Candy, Sable & Melody from Spain and Italy
Grapes: All grapes are in great condition from Spain, Italy, Greece and USA, whether the standard Crimson, Autumn Royal, Midnight Beauty or Thompson, or the newer Allison, Timco, Timpson or Pristine: none should disappoint for sweetness and texture.
For grapes with interesting flavour try: Vitoria (Brazil, in Waitrose), Sable and Cotton Candy (Spain, many stores) and Melody (Spain, M&S, Morrisons).
Apples: Harvest of mid-season apples in UK and Europe is well underway, with Coxâ€™s Orange Pippin now on most retailersâ€™ shelves. Â However, there is a wonderful plethora of early and new varieties to try before stocks run out and we settle to the standard range. My personal favourites are Delbard Estivale, Scrumptious and Zari, while a new Swiss variety called Galmac caught my eye in Waitrose (a little soft, but a very early variety with a good hint of McIntosh in the flavour).
The later-harvested mainstream varieties, such as Braeburn, Jazz, Granny Smith and Pink Lady, are still from the southern hemisphere and still good, if retailers are on their toes; while Gala and Golden Delicious are now all from Europe.
Figs: Turkish Bursa figs are still lovely, but choose carefully. They are best bought loose to enable selection of the best: look for uniform dark purple colour, a tenderness all over that you can gently feel with your fingertips (no hard, shiny areas) and free from soft, discoloured blotches.
Mangoes: One of my favourite varieties, Osteen from Spain, is starting to appear (seen in Lidl this week): Iâ€™m looking forward to it ripening. Otherwise, the choice is predominantly Keitt from a variety of places: choose those from nearest to home (e.g. Israel or Egypt) for better maturity and flavour.
Satsumas: Early Satsumas can be a little tangy, but the first Iwasaki Satsumas from Spain have sufficient juice and sweetness to enjoy: in most stores by now.
Persimmons: Persimmons (or Sharonfruit) are just starting again from Spain, but Iâ€™ve only seen them in Asda so far.
Kiwiberry: These could be seen as a bit of a novelty, but they are actually very tasty and as ideal for snacks (childrenâ€™s lunch boxes) as grapes. They are now available in M&S, Tesco and Waitrose from Herefordshire.
Mandarins: Try any of: Nadorcott, Tangold (very similar to Nadocott, guaranteed seedless), Orri and Clemenorr for satisfaction. These are all good mandarins from Peru and South Africa.
Tangelo: The Peruvian Minneola Tangelo has a dedicated following for its soft segments and high juice content â€“ only seen in Tesco, but possibly in independent green grocers as well.
Oranges: Navels are getting scarce, but, Valencia-type oranges (Valencia Late, Midknight and Delta Seedless) from South Africa and Swaziland are flavoursome, juicy, sweet and with reduced acids as the season progresses.
British Plums: The season is all but over, though Marjorie Seedling, which can be delicious, is still in most stores, and M&S still have some Victoria plums, if you are lucky.
Berries: Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries are still abundant: mostly, except for blueberries, from UK. The southern hemisphere blueberry season has now started with South African Snowchaser, and Biloxi from Peru. These will have been airfreighted due to low early season volumes, so will be fresh from the farms.
Pears: One of my favourite pears, AbatÃ© FÃ©tel, is back on shelves from Italy (currently in Asda & Sainsburys): eat them crisp or soft. The season is also underway for another favourite, Rocha, the national pear of Portugal. Both may have that â€˜newly harvestedâ€™ taste and texture if eaten crisp, but should ripen and soften perfectly well.
Melons: Late Charantais from France is still wonderful, but the season will not last much longer. Melons are now primarily from Brazil, so one has to account for the longer shipping time in expectation of flavour.
Peaches & Nectarines: Peaches and nectarines are in their late season from Spain and Italy, and, being late varieties, will have a noticeable density to the flesh.
Plums: The standard plum offer is also moving into the later-season varieties: once Angelino plums start being sold, you know that the season is drawing to an end.
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.