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The Best Fruit for March

The irrepressible march of the seasons gives March an appropriate name and an ebullience that I suspect we all feel after an endless winter. This month tends to be tricky for the fruit trade as there are seasons ending and seasons beginning which always present a challenge for management of quality. For us, the consumer, we notice the freshness of early season fruit, and the mellowing of those coming to an end, though often offering a deepening of flavour to keep us interested.

New blueberries and pears, and even, towards the end of the month, some flavoursome new home-grown strawberries will add to the excellent citrus and grapes that carry on from February. Mangoes from Peru also improve in quality; we will see the first slow change-over of apples with early Gala from the southern hemisphere; and we will see the first fresh and tangy satsumas from South Africa. There is no shortage of choice if you know where to look!

Below is more detail of what to expect of your favourite fruit types.

For My Fruit Bowl, I Would Buy:

  • Oranges: Tarocco from Sicily; Navels from Spain and Egypt
  • Mandarins: Orri and Leanri from Spain; Nadorcott/Tangold from Morocco and Spain
  • Grapes from South Africa
  • Blueberries from Morocco and Spain
  • Raspberries from Morocco, Spain and Portugal
  • Apples: Envy, Smitten, Daliclass, Rubens, Magic Star from UK and Europe
  • Figs: Evita and Ronde de Bordeaux from South Africa
  • Mango: Ataulfo from Mexico; Kent from Peru.

APPLE Update:

European apples are still excellent quality, as is the choice. Braeburn, Gala, Jazz, Pink Lady, Granny Smith, Egremont Russet and Golden Delicious are unchanged, though the first South African Gala of the fresh season may appear towards the end of the month.

The individual preferences of varieties of each retailer continues to add some interest: M&S (Envy, Smitten, Rocket, Amelia); Waitrose (Envy, Smitten, Crimson Crisp, Opal); Tesco (Rubens, Magic Star); Sainsbury’s (Cameo, Kanzi), Asda (Honeycrisp, Cherish, LoliPop) and Morrisons (Smitten, Egremont Russet). These are all worth trying as they offer something quite different from the standard range.


Apricots from South Africa are pretty much at the end of the season except for an ad hoc selection of late varieties.


Hass from Columbia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Spain and Israel dominate stocks in supermarkets for most of March, with new East African, South African and Peruvian fruit possibly becoming available towards the end of the month. With the South African season, the green-skinned Fuerte should be on sale which makes for a change in texture and lightness of flavour.


Tupi and Ark45 from Mexico and Guatemala make up the main choice with the Morocco supplying the sweet, large-fruited variety, Driscoll Victoria.


To my mind, there is nothing worse than soft blueberries. I always, therefore, start avoiding them from the southern hemisphere as March progresses, as quality problems and short shelf-life become more and more pronounced. You may be lucky to still find some decent Chilean Legacy and Liberty, but with fresh Moroccan and Spanish fruit readily available, why take the risk? There are plenty of lovely new varieties on sale and the fruit has a lovely freshness of taste as well as texture.

CHERRY Update:

Cherries continue to be available from Chile and Argentina, sometimes, South Africa, but can be of mixed quality as supermarkets rely on late varieties and long storage as the seasons end.

FIG Update:

Evita, Parisian and Ronde de Bordeaux are excellent from South Africa. The baby Ronde de Bordeaux is a particular delight: make sure it is well coloured and without light patches to get the best eating quality (similarly for Evita). Toro Sentado from Peru, also a good variety, is the choice of some supermarkets.

GRAPE Update:

For most of March, South African grapes are the main choice, with the flavoursome Brazilian Vitoria and Peruvian Cotton Candy also on sale. As South African stocks get less reliable, usually towards the end of March and into April, retailers start selling Indian and Chilean grapes as well, so expect some changes to taste profiles, particularly with green varieties.

Red grapes: There are lots of different red seedless varieties from South Africa, the best being Timco and Sweet Celebration for their combination of texture and sweetness. Ideally, try to buy the pink Sweet Celebration, as the darker versions, though sweet, can be slightly soft, which defeats the object of the variety. Ralli is another decent red variety that will become available, while the ‘flavour’ grapes, Candy Hearts and Sweet Nectar, are often available from Peru and South Africa. Also look out for Muscat Beauty, grown in South Africa and Peru: a sublime variety, delicately flavoured and sweet.

Black grapes: Along with Vitoria from Brazil, there are some good black seedless varieties from South Africa. For stand-out flavour, Sable is delicious, reliable and easily available (sometimes sold as Sugrasixteen, though when so named, it may not be the best quality). Midnight Beauty, Sweet Joy and Melody are the main ‘volume’ black grapes, with the latter being particularly good from South Africa. Also look out for Adora Seedless for its plump berries, and Arra 14-1 Mystic Bloom, an incredibly juicy and sweet variety, though avoid under-coloured berries as they may be rather tasteless. 

Green grapes: For the sweeter-toothed, there are an abundance of the newer varieties such as flavoursome Cotton Candy, and the excellent crisp, plump varieties, Ivory, Sweet Globe, Sugar Crisp and Autumn Crisp.

A proportion of the South African green grapes on sale will be the seedless mainstream varieties such as Thompson Seedless, Prime, Early Sweet and Arra 15. At their best, these are lovely grapes: sweet, slightly tangy and juicy. However, they are often rather unexceptional, so a good rule of thumb is to look for bolder berries with a nice straw colour.


There is no change in availability of grapefruit and pomelo from February. Israel continues to produce the best red and white grapefruit at this time of year: White Marsh Seedless, Sunrise (aka Star Ruby) and Rio Red. For pink grapefruit, the sublime Florida Pink, will appeal to anyone: sweet, mild and full of juice (seemingly quite scarce this year).

Chinese Pomelo is easily available in most larger stores, but varieties from Thailand and Vietnam are a better bet for flavour, if you can find them in independent stores (though somewhat more expensive).

Easier to peel than a pomelo is Alizza Fruit, a pomelo x mandarin cross developed in Israel, which is quite unique in juiciness and flavour: stocked by M&S from Spain.

KIWI Update:

All green Hayward kiwifruit continue on sale from Italy, Greece or Portugal.

The sweeter yellow kiwifruit are either Dori, Jintao or Sungold mainly from Italy. Yellow kiwifruit tend to be easier to soften at home which helps bring out the sweetness.

Hayward often take a long time to give any hint of softness, so can be very tart if you run out of patience. Green kiwis sold in ripe n’ ready to eat packs are less likely to have this problem, while particularly cheap fruit can be affected by under-maturity and never ripen properly, or over-maturity with attendant rapid softening.

LEMON Update:

All lemons sold in supermarkets are variety Primofiori from Spain. Organic lemons are often Feminello from Italy. Increasingly, you can also buy seedless lemons, which may be useful for both cooking and for drinks.

LYCHEE Update:

Lychee from southern Africa are all but finished in March, though some Red McLean, a late variety, can be found here and there. This isn’t quite as succulent as the Mauritius variety, but still very tasty.


March is essentially all about Orri, Nadorcott and Tangold  from Spain and Morocco (and Israel for Orri). These are lovely, deeply flavoured easy-peelers for the late season which will be very satisfying and enjoyable. Tangold is essentially a guaranteed seedless Nadorcott, not that you will find many seeds in Nadorcott. Orri is often sold as a tangerine and has greater firmness than the other two but offers huge sweetness and sensory pleasure. Egyptian Nadorcott may also be available.

Leanri  is a very good alternative and may continue into March as stocks allow (mainly sold as Tangerines). Also, keep a look out for the Sicilian mandarins such as Tacle, Manadred and Mandalate which have such a distinctive flavour and texture, though these are quite rare on our shelves.  Ortanique may also be sold as a tangerine: a tasty fruit, but difficult to peel.

Towards the end of March, other late mandarins, such as Murcott, may start to appear: a very sweet, thin-skinned option with quite firm flesh.

MANGO Update:

Kent from Peru comes into its own in March as, despite the long sea journey, the maturity of the fruit offers the best eating quality of the year of this variety. Brazilian Palmer may also continue to be available in some stores.

The more refined option, recently featured in Anna Maduka’s Mama Afrika, is the sublime Ataulfo which is now mainly from Mexican (reliably by the box in Costco, sometimes in Asda, where it is cheaper). This is still fairly early-season, so some tanginess may linger in the taste.

MELON Update:

It will not be long before we see the first early Spanish melons, but in the meantime, Galia and Canteloupe will increasingly come from Honduras and Costa Rica; Honeydew and Watermelon from Costa Rica and Brazil, and Piel de Sapo and Ivory Gaya (aka Sweet Snowball or Matice) continue from Brazil. Eating quality does not change much with country of origin. Piel de Sapo and Ivory Gaya are the best bet for reliable sweetness.

ORANGE Update:

Oranges in March are as good, if not better than in February. The best is Sicilian Tarocco, but the Spanish version comes close in eating quality. Actually, the best orange is really the Maltaise Sanguine from Tunisia, but they are hardly ever available in UK (most go to France).

I noticed that Tarocco oranges in Tesco are being called Ippolita which is a bit misleading as they could be confused with other, lesser types of blood orange such as Moro and Sanguinelli. The Ippolita Tarocco has a particularly high level of pigmentation.

Navels, Navelates and Lane-Lates are also still at their best as eating oranges and are much more widely available that pigmented oranges.

Look out for Salustiana, a ‘blond’ orange from Spain or Valencia Lates from Egypt, and for marmalade, the Seville orange season is in full flow: so much better when homemade.

From mid-March, the late season variety, Valencia Late, starts to arrive on shelves. This is a good, versatile orange, though not as fine as the Navel. First arrivals will have a slight acid tang (from Spain, Morocco and Egypt).

PAPAYA Update:

Papaya are available through-out the year in supermarkets, mainly from Brazil and occasionally from Jamaica and South Africa. Currently, Brazilian papaya are in most stores. Over the last year or so, the variety used has changed from Solo to Sunshine. As well as various agronomic benefits, Sunshine has properties that allow longer storage times to make shipping easier. For the consumer, the most noticeable difference is a slightly more firm flesh, but the fruit is still very attractive, sweet and tasty. Solo continues to be available.


Peaches and nectarines from South Africa (possibly some from Chile) are getting into their late season so will start to have a more dense texture. Ripe-and-ready to eat options of larger fruit are more reliable, but the lovely succulence of mid-season varieties will be increasingly hard to come by.

PEAR Update:

Rocha and Conference are both good pears that can be eaten hard or soft and can reliably be found in most stores in March and beyond (they store well). Comice is a more sumptuous, soft and juicy pear and still on sale in early March. There is also Angélys in some stores (e.g M&S): an interesting russet pear with sweet, white flesh and a lovely flavour when properly mature.

During March, the new season Williams’ Bon Chrétien from South Africa will arrive: a sweet and fragrant variety. A very early variety called Sempre may also be seen (crisp, slightly tangy but mild in flavour), as well as Qtee.


Triumph (or Sharonfruit) from Israel should be available in most larger stores into mid-March.

PLUM Update:

FlavorKing has been the stand-out plum for flavour but will diminish in both quality and availability in March. Other plums from South Africa reflect the mid-to-late season, which is normally a good time to buy most varieties and get some decent, sweet fruit. Laetitia is a good stalwart of this time, but also look out for African Delight and Ruby Star representing the last of the succulent plums of the season.

As each year goes by, an array of interesting new varieties appear on sale. These can be quite confusing to follow, but best just to enjoy the opportunity as you see them and hope that you can trust your retailer to do them justice. Plums are notoriously difficult to get right from the supply side, so the ripe-and-ready options are probably the best for reliability, and it is in these that many of the new varieties will appear.

A sign of the season entering its late stages is when Angelino appears on the shelves, often in late March from South Africa and Chile: a common, firm-fleshed, though rather uninspiring variety.


March brings plentiful raspberries of great quality from Morocco, Portugal and Spain. BerryWorld Gem and Driscoll Yasmin seem to be the best varieties, but most are good at this stage. Try to find the deeper coloured fruit which have more flavour, though take care to avoid punnets with any sign of juice or mould.


Queen is the only satsuma that may be found on sale in March. It is a very satisfying fruit, easy to peel and sweet, but, although being a natural satsuma hybrid, is not really like a standard satsuma to eat.

Harvest of new season satsumas is underway in South Africa and Peru. South African satsumas generally arrive first, so look out for them by the end of March: lovely juicy, light and tangy fruit.


Strawberries in March are essentially from Morocco and Spain. The Spanish fruit will gradually become more dominant and, as the season progresses, more of the improved varieties will become available. While none are particularly exciting for fresh eating, there will be more chance of some flavour. Possibly, the first UK-grown fruit from glasshouses will become available, with the advantage of much shorter delivery times and therefore allowing longer for fruit to mature before harvest.

©Good Fruit Guide 2024. 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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