A Fuzzy Brown Jewel of the Produce Isle
All so often when checking out at the grocery store, the person scanning the shopper's items will see a brown-green,colored, fuzzy, egg-shaped item and ask for its name. This jewel of the produce aisle is the kiwifruit! It tastes great and is chock full of antioxidants and health benefits.
Description and How to Choose Your Kiwis
A kiwifruit typically found in the supermarket today is the size of a large egg with a brownish-green, hairy skin. Look for fruits with no mushy spots and no bruises or blemishes. If a kiwi feels hard, it is not ripe. The ripe fruit should feel soft and give slightly when touched. The riper the kiwifruit flesh becomes, the sweeter it gets. To speed up the ripening of the fruit, place in a brown paper bag at room temperature with an apple, banana, or pear. Once a kiwi is ripe, keep it in the refrigerator. Storage away from other fruits is preferable. This is because kiwis are sensitive to ethylene gas emitted by other fruits which might cause the fruit to over-ripen.
How to Eat the Kiwi
A favorite way to enjoy a kiwi is just to cut it crosswise in the middle and scoop out the sweet fruit with a spoon. To peel for use in a salad or other recipe, first cut both ends off the fruit. Then scoop out the flesh with a spoon and slice. Recipes online abound for using kiwis. A super simple suggestion is to peel and slice pieces of kiwi, place on slices of angel food cake (store-bought, ready-made works fine), and top with whipped cream and a maraschino cherry. It is elegant looking, delicious, and simple.
The commercial fruit we now know as the kiwifruit, also sometimes just referred to as the kiwi, originated in southern China and can also be known as a Chinese gooseberry. In the early 20th century cultivation of the sweet/tart wonder spread to New Zealand by a principal of a girls' college who had visited in China and tasked the fruit. Cultivation spread from there with Italy now being the leading producer of the fruit. California is now also a major grower. The name kiwi came from the name of a bird in New Zealand, actually the national bird of that country. The stem attached to the fruit looks a bit like a bird beak.
Kiwis are a good source of vitamins C, E, and small amounts of A. Bananas, known for being a great source of potassium, contain only slightly more of the element than the potassium-rich kiwi fruit. Coming in at a mere 46 calories for an average size fruit, the kiwi is a little powerhouse. The kiwi seed oil is impressive as well, containing alpha-inolenic acid which is an omega-3 fatty acid in demand by nutritionists. One word of caution is to not use kiwis in recipes using milk as the fruit has the protein-dissolving enzyme, actinidin, which can begin to digest milk proteins.