- Mangoes: Indian Kesar
- Lychee: Mexican Mauritius
- Persimmons: Triumph from South Africa
- Satsumas: Okitsu from Peru
- Strawberries: Malling Centenary and others from UK
- Pears: Taylor’s Gold and Comice
- Apples: Jazz from New Zealand
New Zealand-grown Jazz is the latest southern hemisphere apple to arrive on supermarket shelves. Expect a greater proportion of apples from the southern hemisphere to become the norm for sales over the next few months. Currently, though, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and M&S are selling a high proportion of UK-grown fruit.
Most stores are now selling several options of apricots from Spain, so much so that it is difficult to keep track of varieties. Quality should be excellent, though a spell in the fruit bowl will probably be needed to get the best eating quality.
With South Africa, there is greater availability of the green-skin Fuerte giving a refreshing alternative to the standard Hass. Hass is now mainly from Peru and South Africa.
Virtually all blackberries on sale are now UK-grown. The large-berried, sweet Driscoll Victoria is easy to find, but if you prefer a traditional tanginess to blackberries try some of the cheaper options.
Spanish and Moroccan blueberries remain in good condition. However, with the abundance of the main season, watch-out for signs of softness and wrinkling, even mould, where lack of care is creeping into the supply-chain.
The fact that Lidl is selling loose cherries (at £8.99/kg) is surely a sign that the Spanish season is well underway and that prices are coming down. Pre-packed cherries are priced at £10-12/kg in most retailers. Varieties include: Chelan, Frisco, Sequoia and Cachemire.
June is not a month synonymous with an abundance of figs, but I have noticed Peruvian Toro Sentado in Waitrose and Spanish Colar in Morrisons, which may be worth trying.
While the majority of green grapes are still from India (variety Thompson), there will be more and more Egyptian Prime and Early Sweet available. These are the first of the new Mediterranean season: fresh, firm and sweet with a distinct early tang. With similar eating quality, new season Arra 15 and IFG Eleven are also available from Brazil. It will be a week or so before fresh red and black varieties hit the stores, so the rather tired Chilean fruit will have to suffice for now: not great.
Look out for new season grapefruit from South Africa and Eswatini. There will be a distinct difference in freshness and vibrant flavour compared to the last of Florida, Israel, Turkey and Spain.
Depending on the supermarket, lemons are either the thick-skinned Verna from Spain or the new arrivals of Eureka from South Africa. The latter is going to be more juicy!
Any Nadorcott from Spain or Portugal, or Orri from Spain or Israel will be distinctly flat of flavour as the acids diminish. The new South African and Argentinian seasons are underway, though, so there are plenty of fresh mandarins to buy. Varieties are mainly Clemenules and Oronules, but also Clemenluz and Clemenpons. All will be sweet, juicy, and flavoursome, with some early tang of acid. Also look out for the impressive Nova, sold as a tangerine.
The short season of Mexican lychee continues with availability in most large stores. These are such delicious fruit, among the best for flavour, but always try to avoid punnets with small or variable sizes.
If you can find them in local ethnic stores (or Waitrose), buy Indian Alphonse and Kesar mangoes. These wonderful mangoes are only available once a year and are so tasty it’s a crime not to try them. A word of caution: question your retailer about Alphonse as there have been reports of Spongy Tissue which is associated with late harvest. The African and Caribbean alternative varieties are not in the same ballpark for flavour.
All melons are now from Spain.
It is unlikely that any good Navel Powell is still on sale, so Valencia Late’s, Maroc Late’s and Midknight are the choice from late-season Spain. Quality should still be good and acid levels reduced.
PEACH & NECTARINE Update:
All peaches and nectarines are from Spain with early-mid season varieties on sale. Quality should be excellent, but for reliability it is worth buying the ripe-and-ready to eat packs which use the larger fruit sizes.
Southern hemisphere pears have been on sale since April, but the full spectrum are now in many stores. Particularly look out for Taylor’s Gold and Comice which are lovely varieties to eat soft (and peeled, with napkin handy). Also look out for crispy Forelle (or Vermont Beauty, the under-coloured version) and Abaté Fétèl.
The flat persimmon, Triumph, is on sale in many stores from South Africa: a lovely, sweet fruit which can be eaten in a crisp state or allowed to soften.
You can stop buying old season Angelino from Chile and concentrate instead on the fresh, tangy, but soft and juicy new plums from Spain. They have been on the shelves for a couple of weeks now, but are a huge improvement in flavour and sheer vibrancy. The varieties will improve over the next few weeks but one of the summer essentials has arrived.
Raspberries are now mainly from UK growers. Quality and choice are wonderful, but remember this is a delicate fruit and can’t be left for more than a day or two in the fridge. All the more expensive packs contain recent varieties which tend to be quite firm and less tangy. An exception is Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference which is generally Tulameen, a well established variety with soft berries and great flavour.
The lovely Mihowase is still on sale from South Africa and is now joined by delicious Peruvian Okitsu. I often think the Peruvian fruit is sweeter than the South African alternative, but both are very attractive fruit.
All strawberries are from UK by now. The weather has been fantastic for growers and eating quality has benefited as well. Of the numerous varieties, Malling Centenary, Flair and Murano seem to be reliable performers.
©Good Fruit Guide 2020. 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.