The Best Fruit for May

May is a month of great change of new and old seasons across the fruit spectrum. European soft fruit, melons and stone fruit start filling supermarket shelves; southern hemisphere avocados, satsumas, kiwis, pears and apples arrive; and Indian mangoes fill Asian grocery shops. It is only the grape offer that really struggles, with oranges and mandarins also late in their season, though still offering good eating quality. As always, there is plenty to enjoy, if you know where to look.

  • Pears: Fresh harvest from South Africa and Argentina;
  • Satsumas: Mihowase from South Africa; Okitsu from Peru;
  • Mangoes: Alphonse and Kesar from India;
  • Blueberries & Raspberries: Fresh harvest from Spain, Portugal & Morocco;
  • Avocados: Green skin Fuerte from South Africa
  • Oranges: Late navels Navel Powell & Chislett from Spain;
  • Strawberries: New season from British growers.

APPLE Update:

Most apples are still from the 2023 European harvest season, but new season southern hemisphere apples, principally from South Africa, but also from New Zealand, Argentina and Chile will start to arrive in May. Already available is New Zealand Cox, but Gala from South Africa and New Zealand will be increasingly common. Particularly look out for Smitten and other freshly harvested varieties including Braeburn, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith. Arriving later will be Envy, Jazz, Cripps Red and Pink Lady.

Of the remaining stocks of European fruit, there is still an extensive choice, of which Magic Star (or Natyra, the same variety from Italy) is one of my favourite options, with Spanish Envy, British Smitten and Dutch Kanzi also being on my shopping list as their seasons finish.


Early fresh apricots are not far off harvest in southern Spain and usually arrive in stores during the month. Whenever they arrive, the early varieties will be fresh and tangy. It is often best to wait for slightly later varieties such as Colorado to experience more sweetness.


The main supply of avocados is moving to Africa and South America. Hass will be mainly from Peru, South Africa, Kenya and Tanzania: quality should be excellent for the earlier season fruit. The green-skin Fuerte is also becoming more available, principally from South Africa: a lighter, more refreshing experience (often in Waitrose and Tesco, or independent stores).


Fresh blackberries come mainly from Morocco, Portugal and Spain in May, but some volumes are also grown in the UK under protected cropping. The big, sweet Driscoll Victoria and Midnight varieties are the most popular, but the more tangy traditional varieties are used in the value packs in many supermarkets.


The southern European / North African season has been underway for some time from Morocco, Portugal and Spain. Quality should be at its peak in May, so buy with confidence and expect some excellent fruit, though there has been a hint of softness in some Moroccan fruit.

CHERRY Update:

Fresh cherries are hard to come by in May, but early varieties, such as Coral, become available from the south of Spain. Don’t expect these to be anything like the sweet succulence of mainstream varieties, but some good fresh flavour with a slight acid tang will be the order of the day until the season really gets going.

FIG Update:

Evita and Parisian from South Africa, Toro Sentado from Peru and early Black Mission from Mexico are the choice of figs during May. These are all good eating varieties, but the key to flavour is in maturity: make sure the fruit are as dark as possible with uniform colour and without light green patches to get the best eating quality.

GRAPE Update:

May is a difficult month for grape suppliers as volumes of freshly harvested fruit are very low and suppliers rely on stored stocks and late varieties from South Africa, Chile and India. Essentially, they are waiting for new season fruit from Brazil, Mexico and Egypt. In the meantime, we have a selection of late varieties and varieties that store well, but not a great selection from which to choose.  The quality of grapes that you buy should have a direct association with the care given by the various retailers. You would expect M&S and Waitrose to be the most reliable, but vigilance is necessary at all retailers.

Tips of fruit to avoid:

  • Grapes with very dry stems;
  • punnets with loose berries;
  • any sign of juice or mould in the punnet;
  • green tinges on black or red grapes;
  • green grape varieties with hard green colouration (better is straw or yellowish colour);
  • punnets with variable berry sizes.

Red grapes: Crimson, Scarlotta and Allison are the main red varieties available which offer a decent sweet and crisp eating experience These will be from South Africa, Chile and India. From Chile, look out for delicious Muscat Beauty.

Black grapes: The flavour-packed Vitoria from Brazil continues alongside delicious Sable from South Africa, Chile and Brazil. Otherwise, a selection of varieties such as Autumn Royal, Adora Seedless and Sweet Joy will make-up the choice of black grapes.

Green grapes: India will provide much of the green grape during May which will mostly be Thompson  but also Arra 15 (aka Arra Sweeties). These are decent grapes: sweet, slightly tangy and juicy, but can be rather unexceptional. A good rule of thumb is to look for bolder berries with a nice yellowish straw colour. Sweet Globe may start to become available from Brazil, and the flavoursome Cotton Candy will continue for a while from Chile.             


Sunrise (aka Star Ruby) from Israel continue to be the best grapefruit available. Many stores are supplied from Spain, Turkey, and Cyprus, which tend to have slightly less density and more acidity.

Chinese Pomelo may be in independent grocers.

KIWI Update:

Green Hayward kiwifruit continue from Italy or Greece, but the first New Zealand Hayward will arrive during the month, as will Chilean-grown fruit.

The sweeter yellow kiwifruit from New Zealand, Sungold, is now available, and there may well be Skelton from South Africa and Jintao from Chile.  These are quite different from each other, with the New Zealand variety perhaps having the edge on sweetness and flavour.


Loquats are grown in Mediterranean countries and rarely exported in any volume due to their extreme susceptibility to bruise. However, they are available in some independent grocery stores in May from Spain: try them for their lovely unique flavour. Select the fruit with a deeper yellow colour and minimal bruising.

LEMON Update:

The switch from Primofiori to Verna as the main lemon variety on sale from Spain is pretty much complete by May. Verna is a less attractive option due to its thicker-skin, lower juice content and more knobbly appearance but is available long after Primofiori is finished: regular lemon-users will probably notice the difference. There can also be some Spanish Eureka available: certainly, a better option than Verna.

LYCHEE Update:

There are no lychee available in early May in supermarkets, but the Mexican season may start by the end of the month.


Orri, Nadorcott and Tangold  from Spain and Morocco (and Israel for Orri) continue through May, but it is a stretch in terms of quality.  With skill, the best orchards and good harvest planning, these varieties will continue through much of May, but there will be a noticeable flattening of the taste as acids diminish which emphasise a rather bland sweetness. As an alternative, look out for Mor (aka Spring Sunshine) and Murcott: both are lovely, sweet and dense, the peel is slightly tough, but their acids hold-up for a little longer.

The reason these are still on sale is that we are awaiting the freshly harvested mandarins from South Africa, which generally start appearing in late May, with a very different taste profile. For a real wake-up experience, try fresh satsumas from South Africa (see below), which are already in stores!

MANGO Update:

The origins of the standard sea-freight varieties that make up the main supermarket mango offer become more complex from May. Kent from Peru continues for a while, as does Palmer from Brazil (the slightly more flavoursome option), but gradually Central America, Caribbean and West Africa dominate supply, which includes Keitt, the other main ‘Florida’ variety. In terms of eating quality, this means a period of turbulence and uncertainty due to the number of different origins and season start-ups of numerous producers. Some of this fruit is delicious, but often the result is bland and uninspiring, or fruit affected by discolouration.

One variety to buy if you see it is Amelie from Burkina Faso and Mali, a lovely fragrant variety with silky, slippery flesh, an unusual shape and a lovely, perfumed flavour.

More exciting is the start of the Indian mango season with Alphonse, Kesar and Badami. These are exceptional mangoes for flavour: among the best in the world. Alphonse is probably the most reliable in early May, but Kesar will get better and better. They will be appearing in South Asian groceries, and some supermarkets, but not being the prettiest in appearance, can look a bit lost on the shelf: don’t be put off. Buying by the box (5-6 fruit) is best and worth paying for the experience.

Other varieties are available here and there, for example Ataulfo, the favoured mango of Mexico. This smooth, fragrant mango is wonderful at its best, though it can suffer somewhat from long-distance transportation.

MELON Update:

Melons from Central and South America continue into May but are gradually replaced by Spanish fruit as the new season gets underway. Watermelons are usually the first to change, but regular consumers will notice slight changes in eating quality in all varieties as the new fruit arrives. Spanish Piel de Sapo is available now in M&S.

With luck, some supermarkets may stock Charantais from Morocco. These are very popular in France, where most of them are sent. The early varieties tend to be bred for long shelf-life, so have quite firm flesh and less flavour than the mid-summer varieties, though are a cut above other melon types.

ORANGE Update:

The late season Valencia Late (along with variants Midknight, Barberina and Delta) gradually becomes the main orange on sale during May as the supply of Navels reduces. This is a good, versatile orange, flavoursome and great for juicing, though not as fine to eat as the Navel (Valencias are from Spain, Morocco and Egypt). Check labels carefully as some supermarkets use the same packaging for Navels and Valencias, though they offer a quite different eating experience.

Navels, while they continue, should be given preference as the better eating orange. These are mostly Lane-Lates from Spain which are deliciously sweet and succulent. They gradually give way to the ultra-late Navels such as Powell and Chislett which will appear in main supermarkets: equally delicious, though perhaps not quite as succulent. Once they finish, there will be no more Navels until the start of the new South African season in late June.

PAPAYA Update:

Lovely papaya continue from Brazil, mostly Sunrise, but Solo, previously most common variety, is also available in some stores.


Egypt provides the first of the northern hemisphere peaches in the form of Florida Prince. This has a typical early season tanginess, but can be sweet and pleasant after the late varieties from South Africa. In short order there will be the first peaches and nectarines from southern Spain on the shelves which signals the start of the summer stone fruit campaign. Eating quality will only improve as the summer months unfold, but will start, as ever, with some acidity in the fruit.

PEAR Update:

May is a great month for pears as the best of the southern hemisphere arrive. Look out for Forelle, Comice, Green Williams (Williams’ Bon Chrétien), Red Williams, Qtee, Abaté Fétèl and Concorde from South Africa and Argentina, along with tasty stalwart, Packham’s Triumph. Also expected shortly will be New Zealand pears such as Taylor’s Gold and Angelys to add to a wonderful choice. The best chance of finding these varieties is in larger supermarkets.

Otherwise, Rocha and Conference are both good European pears that continue in most retailers.


The new South African season has begun with the flat Sharonfruit type. These may be slightly hard in the beginning but will soon become deliciously flavoursome and succulent. In some independent stores there may be Brazilian Triumph persimmons.


From Columbia, these hugely flavoursome fruit are generally available all year round. The texture and flavour are unique and burst through the mouth with intense sweetness and plenty of acid tanginess. They are great to eat whole, but also for use in recipes alongside other berry fruit.

PLUM Update:

The late season variety Angelino is now the dominant choice of plums from South Africa and Chile and will continue to be so until the new Spanish season gets going later in May. This is a sweet, firm-fleshed, though rather uninspiring variety. There are other alternatives to be found, such as Fall Fiesta and FlavourFall, but they are all quite dense. Some retailers have the more succulent September Yummy which is the better option while stocks last.


Morocco, Portugal and Spain, and, increasingly, UK will provide beautiful raspberries during May. Driscoll Yasmin and Majestic are the main varieties on sale: both very good, especially when they have a deepening colour.


South African Mihowase satsumas can be found in most stores. This is a wonderful fruit for those that like a bit of acidic tang in their citrus: plump, sweet and juicy, and a great contrast to the late European mandarins. Also on shelves is Okitsu from Peru which is equally delicious.


The English strawberry season really gets going in May, though huge volumes are also sold from Spain. The best varieties include Malling Centenary and the Driscoll range of varieties (Lusa, Elizabeth, etc).

©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.