Spanish fresh figs. Juan Manuel Sanz/© ICEX
Spain's tremendously varied geography and climate - Mediterranean, continental and Atlantic - mean that all sorts of fruits can be grown - fruits with stones, with seeds, berries or different varieties of grape, melon, water melon and figs.
Along with vegetables, fruits are currently enjoying great popularity and prestige. However, until the discovery of vitamins and the development of the modern science of nutrition, the beneficial properties of fruit were often placed in doubt, not only when unripe, as many popular sayings warn us. Thanks to the scientific discoveries of recent decades, fruit is today considered an essential tier in the food pyramid, and daily fruit consumption is recommended.
Most outstanding amongst the many drupes, or stone fruits, grown in Spain are peaches and cherries. The peach is a native of China, brought from Persia to the Mediterranean basin by the Romans. Early peach varieties are grown in Andalusia and Valencia, and late ones along the banks of the river Ebro (La Rioja, Navarre and Aragón). The native late yellow peaches grown in the south-east of Aragón have received the Protected Designation of Origin (DOP) Melocotón de Calanda.
Cherries also came from the Middle East and exist in a multitude of varieties with different colors, textures and flavors. They are grown in different parts of Spain but the most celebrated are the red cherries from the Jerte Valley in Extremadura, covered by a Protected Designation of Origin. They are also used to make excellent cherry liquor. In the mountainous area between the provinces of Valencia and Alicante, several small, pointed and very sweet varieties are grown, covered by the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), Cerezas de la Montaña de Alicante.
Apples, Pears and other Fruits with Seeds
Also grown in Alicante and other parts of the east coast of Spain are loquats. These are sweet, slightly sharp fruits that arrived to Spain over two thousand years ago by merchants from the eastern shores of the Mediterranean . Those grown in Callosa d'en Sarrià (Alicante, Valencian Community) have been granted a Protected Designation of Origin. Other important drupes cultivated in Spain are apricots, nectarines and plums.
The apple is one of the most widely-grown fruits worldwide and the different varieties offer a very wide range of colors, flavors and textures. Apples are grown in many parts of Spain but those in the north - Asturias, Castile-León and Catalonia - are generally considered superior. Some of them have been granted a Protected Designation of Origin or a Protected Geographical Indication such as those from the Bierzo (DOP) district of the Reineta variety, or those grown in Gerona (IGP). Some varieties are used to make cider, mixing the sweet ones with the very sour ones. The cider from Asturias, an age-old tradition, is the most famous in Spain and is also covered by a PDO.
Pears, originally from Asia Minor, also fruits with seeds, are grown in many parts of inland Spain, such as Lleida (Catalonia) and Aragón. Those from Rincón de Soto in La Rioja and from Jumilla (Murcia) bear the Protected Designation of Origin (PDO).
Grapes, together with wheat and olives, form a trio that is the epitome of Mediterranean gastronomic culture. Grapes are widely considered the star of the autumn fruit crop, and their adaptation to the characteristics of their growing area has given rise to a large number of varieties. Amongst those grown for table use are the Muscatel grapes, famous for their sweetness. The bagged grapes from Vinalopó in Alicante, the varieties being Ideal and Roseti, are protected by a Designation of Origin. One of the peculiarities of the growing method is that when they are beginning to ripen, the bunches are wrapped in paper to protect the grapes from plant health treatments and from insects.
Fresh Melons and Watermelons
Melons and watermelons have been known since ancient times but in the Middle Ages they almost disappeared from Europe, with the exception of Spain, because they were considered the most pernicious of fruits. Today Spain produces and consumes large amounts of these members of the family Cucurbitaceae, which are especially appetizing in the summer months because of their pleasant flavor and high water content. Melons are grown in many parts of Spain, including several districts in Castile-La Mancha, where the Toadskin variety bears the Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) Melón de la Mancha.
Mention must inevitably be made in the extensive catalogue of Spanish fruits of the typically Mediterranean fig. Mediterranean fig trees were cultivated in ancient Egypt and figs appear throughout history, represented as a sensual, fleshy, sweet fruit that symbolizes fertility and the rebirth of nature. They can be found all along the Mediterranean coastline and in Extremadura. One of the varieties cultivated is commonly known as the Queen fig.
List of food stores in Spain
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- Other Berries
- Cereza del Jerte PDO
- Cerezas de la Montaña de Alicante PGI
- Melocotón de Calanda PDO
- Manzana de Girona PGI
- Manzana Reineta del Bierzo PDO
- Nísperos Callosa d´En Sarriá PDO
- Pera de Jumilla PDO
- Pera de Lleida PDO
- Peras de Rincón de Soto PDO
- Melón de La Mancha
- Uva de mesa embolsada "Vinalopó" PDO
43.96% (Source: Datacomex)
9,500 (includes all fresh fruits and vegetables)
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