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Kiwifruit

Actinidia deliciosa


Description

For New Zealanders, there aren’t many fruits that say ‘home’ as much as the kiwifruit.

Whether it’s on the Christmas pav, chopped into a fruit salad, or just cut in half and scooped out with a spoon, it’s a fruit that has incredible resonance for many New Zealanders.

There are two types of kiwifruit – one is the classic green-fleshed, coarsely-furred type, and the other is the newer smooth-skinned, yellow-fleshed fruit. The yellow-fleshed kiwifruit, developed by Zespri in the early 1990s, is sweeter and less acidic than its traditional green counterpart.

Choose kiwifruit that gives slightly when pressed, and avoid any that are too soft or wrinkled. If you’re not going to use them straightaway, buy firmer ones and store them in the fridge until you need to use them. Kiwifruit are ethylene sensitive so will ripen faster when stored with bananas or apples.

Kiwifruit is an excellent source of vitamin C – so excellent, in fact, that just one kiwifruit will give an adult their full daily recommended intake of vitamin C. Kiwifruit is also a good source of vitamin E, a fat-soluble antioxidant that can promote heart health. It’s also high in fibre, potassium, and folate.

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History

The kiwifruit originates in China, where it’s known as Yang Tao, and was brought to New Zealand in 1904 by Wanganui Girls’ College headmistress Isabel Fraser, who had been visiting her sister’s missionary station in China. The vines planted from those seeds were first recorded as bearing fruit, known as the Chinese gooseberry, six years later.

The kiwifruit we know, the Hayward, was developed in 1924, and commercial planting began in the 1940s. In 1952, 13 tonnes of the fruit was shipped to England, making it the first commercial export of kiwifruit.

The Chinese gooseberry was briefly renamed to ‘melonette’ in the 1950s, when American importers suggested the name be changed, but eventually Jack Turner of Turners & Growers settled on ‘kiwifruit’ in honour of the iconic bird.

New Zealand is one of the world’s biggest producers of kiwifruit, along with Italy.

Uses

Usually, kiwifruit is cut in half, the insides scooped out with a spoon, and the skins thrown away. The skin is perfectly edible though, containing yet more antioxidants. In texture, the skin is similar to that of a pear, and if you don’t like the fuzz, you can just rub it off.

Sliced kiwifruit gives an interesting tang to salads, and looks beautiful on fruit tarts. Try making a tropical fruit salsa to go with fish or chicken: just mix chopped kiwifruit, mango, peach and red onion or shallots with lime juice, chopped fresh mint and coriander, and chopped chilli. Toss and leave for a couple of hours.

Facts

The actinidain in kiwifruit also makes it a great meat tenderiser – just rub a cut kiwifruit over your meat and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.

In some countries, kiwifruit is just known as ‘kiwi’.



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