It is often said that eating citrus in summer is somehow unnatural, but it takes a long memory to remember a time when they were only available in autumn and winter from the Mediterranean harvest. Thanks to excellent southern hemisphere production, there has long been continuity pretty much throughout the year.
By mid-June, all citrus types except lemons and some oranges are from South Africa, Swaziland, Peru or Argentina, and there is some lovely fruit to be found.
Mandarins: Clementines are mild, flavoursome and sweet, mostly varieties Clemenules and Marisol. Of particular note, though, is Nova, often sold as a ‘Tangerine’, which is a delicious variety and worth buying if you see it (in Aldi, Morrisons and Waitrose, but sold in most stores over the summer).
Satsumas are in excellent condition: juicy, tangy and sweet, very easy to peel, and either from South Africa (Mihowase) or Peru (Okitsu).
Oranges: The South African Navel orange season has started by now, and many stores are selling them alongside the Valencia Late orange (aka Maroc Late, Midknight or Delta) from Spain and Morocco.
Navels are the finer eating orange, and the new season fruit has an attractive freshness and lightness. However, Valencia Lates, particularly now, are also very good, flavoursome and wonderful for juicing – look out for bulk buy offers.
Grapefruit: Most stores are selling South African grapefruit, whether the red Star Ruby, pink Rose or White Marsh Seedless. Other than Waitrose, few stores seem to sell all three variants, but none will disappoint as they are fresh and mostly from the hot Lowveld areas of South Africa. Particularly good are grapefruit from Swaziland, where the ideal growing conditions produce some wonderfully dense, sweet and juicy fruit (sometimes sold in M&S and Sainsbury’s).
Lemons: Although the southern hemisphere Eureka lemon season has started, most retailers seem to be sticking with Verna lemons from Spain. This is a variety that bears fruit all year, which is handy, but there is some compromise of quality in a slightly rougher and thicker peel, and lower juice content. Expect to see more Eureka as the summer progresses, though South African growers are selling more to the Middle East and Asia following a long-running dispute with the EU which particularly affects lemons.
Limes: Limes are either from Brazil or Mexico, though Vietnam is becoming an important source, particularly for unwaxed limes (often in M&S, Morrisons and Waitrose).
15th June, 2017
©Good Fruit Guide 2017. 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.