Flavoursome Fruit This Week – wk 11’18, March

Despite another freeze blowing in from Russia, spring is slowly poking its head out with buds fit to burst, snowdrops, early daffodils and mayflowers. The nearest we have with spring fruit is the arrival of the first English strawberries in stores, brought forward in glasshouses. As an opposing sign of the southern autumn, the first pears from South Africa are also gaining shelf-space. Neither of these can be described as packed with flavour, but, with some judicious searching, there is taste to be found in UK stores!


  • Plums: Flavorking from South Africa;
  • Figs: Toro Sentado and Evita;
  • Grapes: Sable, Joybells, Sweet Celebration, Muscat Beauty;
  • Mandarins: Nadorcott and Orri;
  • Oranges: Spanish Navels and Sicilian Tarocco;
  • Persimmon: Triumph from Israel;
  • Papaya: Jamaican Solo and Brazilian Golden.

Plums: South Africa continues as the main source of plums, with odd supplies from Chile. Varieties are mid to late season types, but should still soften to give a sweet, juicy experience. Most stores are selling Flavorking as the ripe & ready option, which, although unpopular with growers, is famous for a wonderful ‘bubble gum’ flavour: worth buying now!

Interestingly, Waitrose have a ‘European’ type plum from South Africa called Van der Merwe: very different from all the ‘Japanese’ plums on sale.

Mandarins: Nadorcott and Orri (often sold as a Tangerine) are in great shape, with the former in all stores. The first Ortanique was spotted in Tesco (as the organic option): a visually beautiful Tangor mandarin, which is sweet, though tough to peel and sometimes quite tangy.

Oranges: Sicilian Tarocco (Aldi, M&S, Morrisons, Tesco and Waitrose) continues as the best blood orange, being fine tasting, sweet and juicy. Otherwise, Spanish Navels such as Lane Late, are also wonderfully sweet and satisfying.

Grapes: Grapes from South Africa and Chile are still great quality.  The range of varieties on sale is extensive, but the main ‘flavour’ grapes are Sable (in most stores) and Muscat Beauty (M&S, sometimes in Morrisons and Waitrose); while Sweet Celebration and Joybells are lovely, sweet, newish red varieties, and crispy green grapes such as Arra 15, Sweet Globe and Autumn Crisp are worth a try.

Indian Thompson Seedless is now in most stores as a low-price offer, and should be sweet and satisfying, if not hugely interesting.

Figs: Evita from South Africa and Toro Sentado from Peru are lovely figs, though will hit the pocket so need to be viewed as a bit of a treat.

Pears: Conference and Rocha are probably the best quality of the remaining European pears from September harvest. The new South African season continues to unfold with the blushed Rosemarie and Flamingo joining Green Williams (aka Williams Bon Cretian). Once ripened, these are mild, fragrant pears.

Peaches and Nectarines: The varieties of South African peaches and nectarines, like plums, are moving towards the late season. Eating quality should be good, particularly with ‘ripe and ready’ packs, but expect more density to the flesh.

Blueberries: Reputable retailers who are still selling Chilean blueberries should be making extra efforts to maintain quality, especially regarding texture. However, new Spanish and Moroccan fruit will be more reliable, though perhaps with a bit of a tang at times.

Persimmon: A real ‘must’ for the comfort of sweetness and flavour is the Triumph persimmon from Israel (only seen in Asda, Morrisons and M&S).

Papaya: Always available, papaya from Jamaica (variety Solo) and Brazil (variety Golden) are generally very flavoursome, particularly with a squeeze of lime. When buying twin packs, there is often one that is ready to eat and one that is less ripe, which should be left in the fruit bowl for 2-3 days to colour-up a bit.

Strawberries: Premium varieties from Spain such as Driscoll Marquis, Viva Isabella and Viva Elisa should offer some sweetness. Also look out for the first UK strawberries, variety Malling Centenary (yet to be tasted by Good Fruit Guide!).

Grapefruit: US Pink grapefruit are reliably good: certainly, the pick of options available, and in most stores.

Mango: All mangoes are Kent from Peru, a decent variety, which at this stage of the season, should ripen and soften without a problem: sweet and fleshy, but not the most flavoursome of fruit.

Kumquats: It’s been a long time since kumquats have made a regular appearance in supermarkets, but Sainsbury’s are now stocking them from Spain (probably in bigger stores).


16th March, 2018



©Good Fruit Guide 2018. Information and data published on www.goodfruitguide.co.uk must not be reproduced or copied without permission of the editor. 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.

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