A feast of autumn fruit in Malaga
One of the surest signs of autumn in Malaga is the arrival of a feast of seasonal fruit in the shops. And we’re not talking apples and pears here. This selection goes beyond and includes several that look very unusual and a few you’ve probably never heard of before. Here’s our guide to autumn fruit in Malaga and how to eat them.
These are known as persimmons in English and originate from Japan, although they grow naturally in southern Spain. This bright red fruit is about the size of a golf ball and when fully ripe is bright red. The outside skin has a slightly waxy feel while the inside is fibrous and very sticky. Caquis contain lots of vitamin A and have high tannin levels (these go down as the fruit ripens, reducing the astringent taste). Caquis come into season between mid-September to mid-October and are sold in Malaga in cartons of 4, 6 or 12 (€2-2.50).
How to eat them: wait until they’re very ripe (the brighter the red, the riper the fruit) for the best taste. Gently break the fruit in half and scoop out the contents with a spoon. There may be some small stones.
This wonderful word in Spanish doesn’t sound quite the same in English where they’re known as custard apples. Chirimoyas are tropical fruits that thrive in Malaga’s warm climate, particularly along the Axarquía coastline. This odd-looking fruit doesn’t look very appetising but don’t be put off by the scaly green exterior because this is one of the most delicious autumn fruits around. The taste is a cross between a banana, custard and a vainilla smoothie. Custard apples contain lots of vitamin B and C, and their season runs from mid-September to early February although they’re at their best in mid-autumn. Chirimoyas are big fruits (some weigh up to 500g) and sold by the kilo. Expect to pay between €2 and €3 per kilo.
How to eat them: wait until they’re ripe (the green skin goes slightly brown and the fruit feels soft when you press lightly on it). Slice in half and scoop out the inside with a spoon. You don’t eat the skin and watch out for the black stones – there can be lots especially in smaller ones
Pomegranates are the symbol of the city of Granada and grow all over southern Spain. There are even pomegranate trees in the parks in Malaga city. The season for this autumn fruit is short and lasts from the end of September to the end of November. Pomegranates are a great source of vitamins A and C, and potassium. They cost between €1.50 and €3 per kilo.
How to eat them: test for ripeness (they feel slightly soft when you press on the fruit), slit the side gently with a knife and force the fruit open. Eat the kernels one by one. Or make it easy for yourself and just cut the pomegranate in half and juice it.
Fresh and dried figs are an essential part of the autumn in Malaga. While the fresh fig season is short – it usually lasts from August to mid-September – you can enjoy dried figs most of the year round. Buy them in fresh food markets and early on in the season for the best quality. Dried figs are packed with fibre and calcium. Sold by the quarter kilo, dried figs cost between €1 and €3 for 250g depending on their size. Figs are one of the most typical things to eat in Malaga.
Muscatel grapes are probably the star of the show when it comes to autumn fruit in Malaga. Not only can you buy them fresh, but dried as raisins (one of the best-known exports from Malaga and a great souvenir) or pressed as Malaga Wine. The fresh muscatel grape season is very short – mid-August to the end of September so you need to make the most of them while you can. Grapes are rich in vitamin A and C, and a good source of iron. Ripe muscatel grapes are on the brown side and locals recommend that you buy them “as ugly as possible” because that’s when they’re at the sweetest. A kilo costs between €1.50 and €2.50. Malaga raisins cost from €2.50 a quarter kilo.
The best places to buy fresh fruit in Malaga is at the fresh food markets. Atarazanas on the north side of the Alameda Principal is the largest. The Mercado de la Merced, located to the right of the Picasso’s birthplace, and the Mercado del Carmen, north of the main train station, are also good places to buy food in Malaga.