Flavoursome Fruit This Week – wk 10’19, March

First Shoots: New blueberries, new pears to accompany the first signs of Spring.

Fresh seasons getting underway bring fragrancy and energy with South African pears and Moroccan blueberries. However, let’s not forget the depth of flavour on offer from late varieties of citrus, particularly mandarins and oranges, and mature mangoes from Peru: all at their best.


  • Mandarins: Orri from Spain;
  • Oranges: Tarocco from Italy;
  • Blueberries: New season from Morocco;
  • Mangoes: Peruvian Kent;
  • Figs:  Evita from South Africa;
  • Pears: Green Williams from South Africa;
  • Grapefruit: Florida Pink from USA.

Mandarins: It is difficult to go wrong with mandarins at the moment as the late varieties hit their peak of quality from Spain, Morocco and Israel.

The best of the options is the delicious Orri from Spain and Israel, often sold as a tangerine, but Mor (in Sainsburys) is a worthy alternative, sweet, firm and flavoursome. The other choices are Nadorcott or Tangold, which are also delicious: softer and with a slight tang, but with lovely depth of flavour. Also look out for Lidl’s ‘Pink Mandarin’: a late Sicilian variety called Etna.

Oranges: Blood oranges are available in most stores, and, of the two varietal choices, both are at their best: Italian Tarocco is usually acknowledged as the most sublime, but Spanish Sanguinelli is also excellent now that acids have reduced. Waitrose are selling Ippolito which is a particularly well-pigmented Tarocco originating in Sicily (though these are grown in Spain).

Spanish Navels are also wonderful, with a lovely acid balance that brings the best out of the late varieties, Navelate and Lane Late. Spanish Salustiana, a ‘blond’ orange with high juice content and a mild eating quality, is also widely available: great for juicing.

Blueberries: The cross-over between the Chilean and Moroccan blueberry seasons is still underway. Most stores continue with late-shipped Chilean fruit, but much of this, particularly at the cheaper end of the spectrum, is mixed with unpleasantly soft berries. Moroccan fruit is appearing in the main retailers (seen in M&S, Morrisons, Tesco, Waitrose) and is worth choosing for fresher flavour and firm texture.

Mangoes: Peruvian Kent is the only choice of mango at the moment. Due to sea-freighting, the variety often proves uninspiring to eat, but we are now in the latter half of the season and there are some very good, flavoursome fruit to be found. Ripe-and-ready twin-packs tend to be a good choice for quality (although you still often have to wait several days for good softness), but plump loose mangoes, as long as they are not hard-green, should also deliver satisfaction (at a very reasonable price).

Figs: Most retailers are selling South African Evita figs which are seriously indulgent when at the right maturity (dark as possible). Waitrose is offering the Peruvian alternative, Toro Sentado: lighter and less ‘jammy’, but still attractive.

Pears: Pears can look quite shabby at this time of year as they have been in storage since September and the skin becomes quite sensitive to marking. However, eating quality of the best varieties should still be fine: Abaté Fétèl, Comice, Migo and Rocha.

It has been interesting to try Gepa and Queen Forelle, two newish German varieties in M&S and Waitrose (the former may be finished), both with hard, densely crisp, but sweet flesh which doesn’t seem to soften: fulfilling, but not to everyone’s taste. A similar variety, perhaps less dense, is Qtee, now reappearing from South Africa as the new season starts, also in M&S and Waitrose. This has arrived ahead of Green Williams (aka Williams Bon Chretian), which normally gets the new season going and is a more traditional pear that needs to soften: fragrant and fresh (seen in Morrisons and Waitrose, so far).

Grapefruit: The grapefruit with the widest appeal is the mild, juicy, sweet Florida Pink (all main supermarket chains). However, particularly if you don’t like bitterness, Sweetie from Israel (in M&S, Sainsburys) is worth trying. Israeli and Spanish Star Ruby red grapefruit also have great eating quality at the moment.

Apples: Every retailer has a number of favourite and tasty alternatives to the main varieties. Look out for:

Grapes: The numerous varieties of South African grapes continue on sale, with the first Indian and Chilean fruit appearing in some stores. Such a plethora of varieties can be confusing, though most will be satisfactory for sweetness and texture (some Arra 15 has been quite acidic). For some of the best, keep the following in mind:

Plums: Plums are mainly from South Africa, with some supplies from Chile. Varieties are now from mid to late season which is usually good news for flavour and sweetness: look out for FlavorKing, the most tasty. Laetitia is probably the most common variety on sale and is generally very good when properly softened. The first Angelino (from Chile) has been spotted in Aldi: normally the last variety of the season, with dense, almost crisp flesh.

Peaches & Nectarines: All varieties are now from the late season in South Africa and will be noticeably more dense than previously.  Flavour and sweetness should be fine, but expect less succulence.

Strawberries: Spanish and Moroccan strawberries are now well established. Sweetness and flavour are often elusive in this fruit, but look out for varieties such as Driscoll Marquis, Driscoll Lusa and Driscoll Lara fordefinite improvement.

©Good Fruit Guide 2019. 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.