The Easter school holidays, with the hope of beautiful Spring weather, are upon us, so it is worth considering the options for delicious fruit to keep children from the sweetie jar. Seasonally, it is not the easiest time as much is coming to an end, and the new seasons starting tend to offer early season varieties. However, here are still some flavoursome gems to be found to suit all budgets:
FOR MY SCHOOL HOLIDAY FRUITBOWL, I WOULD BUY:
- Blueberries: From Morocco and Spain;
- Pears: Rocha from Portugal;
- Oranges: Navels from Spain;
- Mandarins: Nadorcott and Orri;
- Grapes: Melody, Crimson, Allison and Scarlotta from South Africa and Chile;
- Apples: new season Royal Gala.
HOLIDAY FRUIT for CHILDREN
Mandarins: Nadorcott and Orri from Spain, Morocco and Portugal are the main varieties available in stores: great mandarins, losing their acids a little, but becoming very sweet as a result. Generally, these should still be good value as suppliers clear their stocks: expect to pay around £1.70/kg.
Grapes: Of fruit from Chile and South Africa, it is mostly the standard varieties on shelves (e.g. Crimson, Scarlotta, Autumn Royal, Thompson Seedless), and these are still sweet and satisfying, though there will be few promotions available. The black grape, Melody, is one to seek out for it’s sweetness and texture.
Oranges: Late season Navels from Spain, such as Powell (Sainsbury’s) and Rohde (Waitrose) are really sweet at the moment, and LaneLates should still be good. A number of retailers are selling Navels at good values: e.g. Sainsbury’s 10 for £1.75, Morrisons 9 for £1.77.
Pears: All stores have plentiful stocks of European Conference pears, which, though not the most flavoursome, are ideal for snacking, particularly the smaller fruit for smaller hands – eat crisp or soft. Rocha (Portugal’s favourite) is also an ideal snacking pear, generally sweeter, good to eat crisp and also available in small sizes at good values.
Blueberries: An ideal snack, and with the Spanish and Moroccan seasons underway, plentiful and of good value. While cheaper fruit will not be the best varieties, it is freshly harvested and a great alternative to sweets: cheapest in Morrisons at £7.50/kg (2 for £3) and Tesco at £9.20/kg (Rosedene).
Apples: Royal Gala, smaller sizes, are always packed for kids by supermarkets, and it is a great variety in many ways: sweet and crisp. Look out for new southern hemisphere fruit, which may have a hint of freshly-harvested fragrance.
Many supermarkets (e.g. Asda, Morrisons, Aldi, Lidl) sell large bags of cheap apples, often of small sizes. Currently, these tend to be Gala, but also Braeburn and Ariane, which can have a bit of a tang, though often liked by children.
Plums: South African plums are good value, plentiful and easy. The standard late season varieties, such as Angelino and Southern Belle, are now dominating shelves, and these tend to be quite dense and lacking in succulence. However, they should be sweet, though need leaving in the fruit bowl for a few days to ripen.
For better texture, look for Ruby Star and African Delight, on sale in most stores.