May wk19’20: Stores are increasing sales of new season southern hemisphere apples, principally from South Africa, but also from New Zealand, Argentina and Chile. Particularly look out for Smitten, now from both GB and NZ – a rare chance to compare origins of a lovely variety. Other freshly harvested varieties from the southern hemisphere include Braeburn, Cox, Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Pink Lady.
May wk20’20: The very early varieties are moving through the markets to be gradually replaced by varieties with greater depth of sweetness and flavour. For the better eating quality, look for the cherries with deeper red colouration and bolder berry size.
May wk19’20: This is a difficult time of year for grapes as we await the new northern hemisphere season to start. Choice of grapes, which are coming mainly from Chile, India and South Africa, is limited and quality is suffering from long storage – mainly in dry stems and loose berries, but taste and texture is not at their peak either. Two types of green grapes from the new Brazilian season have been seen in Waitrose (Arra 15 and IFG 11 aka Sugar Crisp), but expect some acidity and reduced sweetness. The best options remain Sable and Muscat Beauty from Chile, both still full of flavour.
May wk20’20: Indian Kesar mangoes are on sale in Waitrose: quite expensive at £2 each (promotional price!), but hopefully good to eat.
May wk19’20: Availability of Indian mangoes remains very tight due to the lockdown, both in India and in the airline industry. Haden mangoes from Gambia have started to appear (seen in Sainsbury’s): ripening in the fruit bowl as we speak. Some good Keitt are the main option, from Brazil and Costa Rica, though Kent from the tail-end of the Peruvian season may still be tasty.
May wk19’20: Moroccan Canteloupe melons have been spotted in Waitrose.
May wk20’20: The majority of oranges on sale are now the Valencia-types such as Valencia Late, Midknight, Barberina and Maroc Late. These are tasty oranges which are great for juicing, though may have a slight acidic tang. Some stores are still selling late Navels such as Powell and Barnfield: these are much the better eating oranges, if you can find them.
PEACH & NECTARINE Update:
May wk19’20: Early Spanish peaches and nectarines are becoming more widely available in stores. These early varieties will be challenging: quite tangy, but refreshing and flavoursome for those who don’t mind a bit of sourness. Egyptian Florida Prince peaches are still on sale as well and may have more sweetness by now.
May wk20’20: European pears on sale include Conference, Migo (Sainsbury’s) and Xenia (occasional in Morrisons and Waitrose), but all other pears are from Argentina or South Africa. The latest arrival in stores is the delicious and beautiful Forelle: crisp, juicy and sweet.
May wk20’20: The choice of plums is very much influenced by the end of the southern hemisphere season and is mostly now restricted to September Yummy and Angelino. The former is by far the better variety for eating fresh, provided the retailers don’t push the storage maturity too far.