Week 40, October 2016
It never ceases to amaze me that, whatever the time of year, there is always something exciting happening in the fruit world! Right now, it is the start of the Spanish mango, persimmon, satsuma and clementine, and Israeli grapefruit seasons, but also the consolidation of fresh British apples and pears, and the final fling of tasty oranges from South Africa on our shelves. Among all of these are plenty of satisfying and flavoursome varieties to try: read on!
FOR MY FRUITBOWL, I WOULD BUY:
- Apples: Zari and Delbard Estivale, freshly harvested Gala from UK;
- Pears: AbatÃ© FÃ©tÃ¨l from Italy, and Comice;
- Mango: Osteen from Spain;
- Persimmon: Tone Wase from Spain;
- Satsuma: Okitsu from Spain;
- Oranges: Tarocco blood oranges; Cambria Navels from South Africa.
Apples: The first French Braeburn are appearing (in Asda), which may still be slightly sharp and starchy, but they signal the latter part of the European harvest underway. Only fresh Jazz and Pink Lady among the main varieties have yet to be seen.
A wonderful plethora of varieties are available now that European fruit predominate in stores (23 or so varieties across all retailers), but my personal favourites are Delbard Estivale (M&S and Waitrose), Zari (Lidl and Sainsburys), and fresh English Gala.
Pears: AbatÃ© FÃ©tÃ¨l, the fragrant Italian favourite, is firmly established in Lidl and Sainsburys (occasionally in Asda): eat them crisp or soft. Another favourite, Comice, is also arriving: best left to soften. Iâ€™m now just waiting for the wonderful Concorde to start!
Mangoes: One of my favourite varieties, Osteen from Spain, is now more widely available (Lidl, Morrisons, Tesco, Waitrose). Although it has some fibre around the thin stone, I like the flavour, which is enhanced by the later harvesting possible from nearby Spain, just three days away (the nearest mango groves to the UK).
There is a stark choice of price for Osteen: just 59p each in Lidl (7-10 days to ripen in a fruit bowl) to Â£3 each in Waitrose (large and â€˜perfectlyâ€™ ripe).
Persimmons: Spanish persimmons are now in Sainsburys as well as Asda, and soon to be more widespread. These are a wonderfully sweet fruit with a unique flavour, and good to eat like an apple, or to peel and chop, hard or soft.
Satsumas: I have a weakness for a lovely, sweet, plump and juicy satsuma: most retailers are now selling Okitsu, one of the main-season varieties, so they should be good (the smoother the skin, the better).
Oranges: Valencia-type oranges predominate on shelves (Valencia Late, Midknight and Delta Seedless) and are flavoursome, juicy and sweet, with reduced acids as the season progresses. However, look out for Cambria Navels (seen in Asda and Sainsburys) and Tarocco blood oranges (in M&S and Waitrose) for extra succulence from South Africa.
Mandarins: Try any of: Nadorcott, Tangold (very similar to Nadocott, guaranteed seedless) and Orri for satisfaction. These are all good mandarin varieties from Peru and South Africa. For a completely different, lighter, fresher experience, look out for the start of Spanish clementines (Clemenrubi seen in Tesco).
Grapes: October is the start of a challenging period for grapes as suppliers rely on fruit either stored or late-hanging on the vines to keep stocks on the shelves. The South Africa / Namibia season starts in late November, so there is a way to go, but good retailers will find decent fruit: expect some variability in quality, though.
Figs: Turkish Bursa figs are still good, but choose carefully: best bought loose to enable selection. 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.
Kiwiberry: These are very tasty and, like grapes, ideal for snacks (childrenâ€™s lunch boxes). They are now available in Lidl, M&S, Tesco and Waitrose.
Berries: British strawberries, raspberries and blackberries are still easily available, though not as cheap as they were in the summer. Southern hemisphere blueberries now predominate and should be good quality, while the first South African raspberries and Guatemalan blackberries are appearing on shelves.
Melons: Late-harvest Piel de Sapo are still available from Spain, but all other melons are now from Brazil.
Peaches & Nectarines: Peaches and nectarines are reducing in volumes, and varieties are all of late-season types from Spain and Italy, so will have a noticeable density to the flesh.
Plums: All retailers are selling Angelino plums from Spain and Portugal. These are the last variety of the season and will be dense in texture, but should be sweet: cheap, and ideal for cooking.
Various improved late varieties are also available which should be more succulent than Angelino, though not soft and juicy: try Metis Oxy, Metis Tonic and September Yummy, if you see them.
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.