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Kiwi Fruit: Kitchen Basics

Kiwi fruit1

Kiwi fruitThe flavor of a kiwi fruit is all kiwi fruit: sweet-tart with hints of citrus, strawberry, pineapple, and melon. You have probably tasted nothing like the kiwi fruit. Its flavor is unique.

The kiwi fruit is a berry. It grows on a climbing, creeping plant that resembles a vine. The fruit is about 3 inches (7.5 cm) long with a thin, bristly, brownish-fuzzed skin and weighs between 2 and 4 ounces (48-112 grams) . The kiwi’s flesh is emerald-green to chartreuse colored: sweet, juicy and will taste slightly acidic i you bite into the small poppy-like edible black seeds that radiate like a halo from the yellowish core.

This plant originated in China where it was prized. The ruling khans of southern China called the kiwi yang tao. When the British arrived in China in the early 19th century, they renamed this fruit the “Chinese gooseberry”—even though it is no relation to a gooseberry.

The yang tao gradually made its way around the world. It was introduced into New Zealand in 1906 and became a major commercial crop there in the 1960s. In New Zealand, the yang tao got dubbed the “kiwi”—a nickname for the native flightless bird apteryx which at a distance appears brown and fuzzy.

Choosing. Select kiwis that give slightly to your squeeze. The flesh should be soft but not very soft. A very soft kiwi can be mealy and mushy and will lack flavor.

Storage. A ripe kiwi can be kept in the refrigerator for several days. If you choose a kiwi that is close to ripe and refrigerate it immediately, it can keep for many months. When you are ready to use it, set it out at room temperature for a couple of days until it yields to slight pressure and has finished ripening.

Serving. Kiwi fruit is a great breakfast fruit. Halve the kiwi crosswise and simply scoop it out and eat it chilled and fresh with a small spoon. A peeled kiwi can be served halved or quartered as an edible garnish. (Peel a kiwi with a paring knife.) Add raw kiwi to fresh fruit compotes and salads or serve it with avocado, radicchio, endive just as you would oranges.

Kiwi fruit facts and trivia. Today kiwi fruit is a major crop in New Zealand and California. The California crop is available from October through May and the New Zealand crop from June to October.

Kiwi fruit is also grown in Spain, Italy, Greece, Israel, South Africa, India, China, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and France—where it is called souris végétale which mean vegetable mouse.

Also of interest:

How to Plant, Grow, Prune, and Harvest Kiwifruit.

Written by Stephen Albert

Stephen Albert is a horticulturist, master gardener, and certified nurseryman who has taught at the University of California for more than 25 years. He holds graduate degrees from the University of California and the University of Iowa. His books include Vegetable Garden Grower’s Guide, Vegetable Garden Almanac & Planner, Tomato Grower’s Answer Book, and Kitchen Garden Grower’s Guide. His Vegetable Garden Grower’s Masterclass is available online. has more than 10 million visitors each year.

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