With summer coming up, there’s no greater natural pleasure than having some freshly ripened fruit to snack on. But like so many things, timing is crucial to getting fruit at its optimum flavour, colour and texture.
At Co-op, many of our growers are involved with breeding fruit varieties to improve flavour, appearance and shelf life to ensure you get the best fruit available. Check out this British fruit buyer’s guide so you can select the sweetest treats at the right time of year from your local store.
When to buy
Rhubarb is available from mid January and, when it is ‘forced’ (or grown indoors), this gives the light pink colour. However, outdoor rhubarb starts in about March, but it does depend on the season.
Strawberries are available May to October, with early June being the best time to eat them. Traditional varieties include Elsanta and Sonata, delivering high sugar, lovely aroma and nice shaped fruit
Raspberries come into season in June until November. Similar to strawberries, the first fruit is often the best for eating. Recent work on varieties is changing the profile and appearance of the crop, giving a more consistent quality throughout the season.
Blueberries are in their prime in July/August and blackberries are perfect from June till November. Again, lots of new super-sweet varieties are available, including Karaka Black, Ouichita and Arapaho.
What to look for
Rhubarb forced crop is light pink, but the outdoor crop is a green/dark pink colour. Forced crop is generally sweeter, but is only available for a limited time. The best prices on rhubarb are during spring and summer.
Cherries should have fresh green stems and glossy fruit. Being ‘homegrown’, UK cherries can be left on the tree longer, and those extra few hours or days of sunshine build the sweetness inside.
Plums in the UK may look different to most of the imported varieties and are more oval in shape, with a green colour to the skin. Do not let that deceive you, though – this fruit is full of sweetness and picked to perfection.
Look out for Berries in promotional packs, as they generally offer excellent value when on offer.
Top tips for storing your fruit
- Always put fruit in the fridge as soon as you can, but not below zero degrees. And wash it just before you eat it, as washed soft fruit doesn’t keep as well.
- Cherries can be kept at really cold temperatures, down to 2oC. Keep them in the fridge so the fruit is firm and the stems are greener longer.
- Plums can also be refrigerated but, for the best taste, leave a few in your fruit bowl to ripen.