The kiwifruit is native to the Yangtze River valley of northern China and Zhejiang Province on the coast of eastern China. The first seeds were brought out of China by missionaries to New Zealand at the turn of this century.
Early nurserymen in New Zealand, such as Alexander Allison, Bruno Just, and Hayward Wright, recognized the potential of the fruit and it soon became a popular backyard vine. Several plants were sent to the Chico Plant Introduction Station in California and exist to this date.
In addition to New Zealand and California, kiwifruit is also grown commercially in such areas as Italy, South Africa and Chile.
The Kiwi Fruit
The oblong fruit is up to 2-1/2 inches long, with russet-brown skin densely covered with short, stiff brown hairs.
The flesh, firm until fully ripe, is glistening, bright green or sometimes yellow, brownish or off-white, except for the white center from which radiate many fine, pale lines. Between these lines are scattered minute dark-purple or nearly black seeds, unnoticeable in eating.
The flavor of kiwifruit is sweet/tart to acid, somewhat like that of the gooseberry with a suggestion of strawberry.
Firm kiwis, left at room temperature, soften and sweeten in three to five days. Ripe kiwis feel like ripe peaches. Refrigerated, they stay fresh for weeks. Average size is two to three inches long.
The kiwi has a furry brown skin which is peeled off before eating. The inside should be lime green in color.
Kiwi may be used to tenderize meat. They are available June to March. When ripe, kiwi will give slightly to the touch. They are low in calories and are an excellent source of vitamin C.
Kiwifruit is also a source of minerals such as potassium, calcium, and phosphorus, and dietary fiber.
The primary use of kiwi fruit is for the fresh market, although culled fruit is processed into canned and frozen fruit slices, wine, jam, juice, and dried products.
Kiwi is sometimes called a Chinese gooseberry, but is not related to the gooseberry.
Two kiwis equal the fiber in one cup of bran flakes.
Peel kiwis with a vegetable peeler for less waste.
Kiwis make an excellent meat tenderizer when pureed and used in a marinade. Contains the chemical actinidin, which also is the chemical in kiwi that causes the gelatin not to gel if you add kiwi to gelatin. Cooking the fruit even for a short period of time, however, deactivates the chemical.
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