These lovely crisp, cold winter days can be more ‘hot soups and mugs of cocoa’ than fresh fruit, but then a good crisp apple or pear, or a satisfyingly sweet orange would not go amiss, nor a nutritious banana on-the-hoof. And, once cosily tucked away at home, there are some deliciously flavoursome exotic delights to remind us of the wonder and privilege of the fruitful choice in our shops.
FOR MY FRUITBOWL, I WOULD BUY:
- Grapes: Vitoria from Brazil; Sable, Ralli and Magenta and South Africa
- Mandarins: Nadorcott or Tangold from Spain and Morocco;
- Oranges: Navels from Spain, and blood oranges from Italy;
- Lychee: from Madagascar and South Africa;
- Apples: Rubens, Empire and Egremont Russet;
- Pears: Concorde, Comice, Abaté Fétèl;
Grapes: The South African and Namibian season is in full swing and the fruit is very good, whichever variety you choose. Fruit from Peru and Brazil also still features. Black grapes are usually my choice: Sable (most stores) and Vitoria (M&S, Morrisons & Waitrose) are wonderfully flavoursome, and Melody is usually very sweet and satisfying. However, I’ve had some wonderful red Ralli, Magenta and Sweet Celebration, and the green grapes will not disappoint either.
Mandarins: Clemenules are in the latter part of their season and will be losing their acids. Look out for Nadorcott, Tangold or Nour which are full of flavour and a good balanced sweetness, from Morocco and Spain.
Satsumas: The season for standard satsumas finished some weeks ago, but, now on sale from Spain, is a variety called Queen (Tesco are selling a similar variety called Belebela). This variety is the result of a natural mutation on a branch of a satsuma tree, producing fruit that matures late, looks quite different, but tastes wonderful (Morrisons, Sainsbury, Tesco).
Oranges: Sweet Spanish Navellates are in all stores, but look out for Sicilian blood oranges, Moro and Tarocco: sublime (seen in M&S, Sainsbury, Tesco, Waitrose).
Lychee: Top of the tree for flavour, and still plentiful from South Africa and Madagascar. For the best value, try: Asda at £5.00/kg; Tesco at £5.30/kg; Lidl at £5.99/kg (or M&S at £17.14/kg!).
Apples: There is a great range of varieties on sale, but my favourites are: Rubens (Asda, Sainsbury, Tesco), Empire (Tesco) and Egremont Russet (all stores).
Pears: While they last, keep buying Concorde, crisp and perfumed (M&S, Morrisons, Sainsbury, Tesco and Waitrose) and Comice, the ‘queen of pears’, soft and silky. Crisp, sweet Rocha, only from Portugal, is also a lovely pear.
Plums: The South African season is approaching its peak and there are plenty of plums on sale in all stores. Sapphire is a decent variety, especially if you let it soften properly in the fruit bowl, but, for better flavour, try the delicious Flavorking, or Ruby Sun, a new variety.
Mangoes: Practically all mangoes on sale are from Peru with a choice of one variety, Kent. It is not the most flavoursome, but the fruit should ripen reliably and have good sweetness.
Grapefruit: Sunrise and White Marsh from Israel and, the sweet, juicy Florida Pink Ruby Red, are the clear choice of best grapefruit (Spain is the other source at present).
Figs: Although expensive, good figs from the southern hemisphere are now readily available: Brown Turkey from Argentina and Evita from South Africa.
Persimmons: Spanish persimmon, Rojo Brilliante, is still available, but most stores have switched to the flatter Sharon fruit variety, Triumph: still a lovely, sweet fruit.
Strawberries: I don’t normally comment on strawberries in winter: it’s hard to find any flavour from the standard varieties, Fortune and Festival, from Egypt, Morocco or Spain. However, a wider range of varieties are available this season, some of which seem to be more enjoyable as fresh fruit. I will try to evaluate some in time, but it is worth trying varieties such as F1, Marilyn, or Winter Sweet.
Melons: All Brazilian melons continue as fine as ingredients for fruit salads, but I would say that the sweetest available are Ivory Gaya (aka Sweet Snowball in Tesco Extra) and Ice melon (in M&S).
Week 04, January 2017
©Good Fruit Guide 2017. 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.