Kiwi

The kiwifruit is an exotic treat that is available year-round in many regions.

Kiwis are colorful fruits with fuzzy skin and sweet-tasting, creamy flesh. Classified as a berry, they grow on staked creeper vines much like grapes. Eaten fresh, mixed with other exotic fruits, or pureed for smoothies, they’re a refreshing and highly nutritional treat.

History

In its native China, kiwi (Actinidia deliciosa) was originally called Yang Tao. In the early 20th Century, the fruit made a first appearance in New Zealand, and eventually the name changed to “Chinese gooseberries.” In 1961, following a debut in a San Francisco restaurant, the name kiwifruit - in honor of New Zealand’s symbolic flightless bird – was deemed more marketable. Many other countries now produce commercial crops.

Varieties

Several hundred kiwi species have been identified. Green kiwifruits are readily found in most markets. Gold-fleshed fruits are less common. Both types have fuzzed skins and are pockmarked with a starburst of edible black seeds at the center. They can be found from the size of a grape to that of an egg.

Buying Tips

Select firm fruits and allow them to ripen at room temperature. If the skin gives with slight finger pressure, the fruit may already be sweet enough to eat. To prolong shelf life, refrigerate unripe kiwi for up to one month. Cold, ripe kiwi will stay fresh and firm for about two weeks.

Storage Tips

Kiwifruits will ripen at room temperature in a paper bag and can then be refrigerated. They will grow sweeter, but may ferment if left too long. They freeze well – up to one year – when sugar syrup and ascorbic acid are added.

Usage Tips

• Peel before eating or using in recipes if desired, although the skin is edible.

• The sweetest portion of the fruit is at the center.

• Kiwi is best served fresh, not cooked or baked.

• The fruit contains enzymes (actinidin/bromic acids) that aid in tenderizing meat. Rub a cut half or quarter across the surface. These same enzymes prevent gelatin from setting.

• Once cut, the flesh will soften quickly. Always prepare just before serving.

Substitution Tips

• Strawberries and peaches (add a few lemon or lime drops).

Nutrition Notes

On a per-ounce basis, kiwis are one of the “superfoods.” They’re packed with potassium and Vitamins C (higher than oranges.)

by BigOven editorial team
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