Kiwifruit (or kiwi) grows on a woody vine and is popular in fruit salads and used as a colorful garnish thanks to its bright green interior. Kiwifruit is relatively new to commercial agriculture, first arriving in Europe in the mid-20th century from the fruit's first large-scale grower, New Zealand. A Kiwi is also a flightless bird native to the island nation, and its brown furry feathers resemble the outer skin of a kiwifruit.
What Is Kiwifruit?
Kiwifruit, also known as simply kiwi or Chinese gooseberry, is a fuzzy brown fruit with bright green or yellow flesh. The edible peel is typically removed before eating, and the interior contains rows of tiny black seeds that are also edible. Kiwi is usually eaten raw, either as a snack, an ingredient in fruit salads and smoothies, or as a garnish for a dessert or cocktail. While not particularly expensive, kiwifruit is priced higher than more common fruits like apples and bananas.
How to Use Kiwifruit
Best when fresh, kiwifruit is typically eaten raw when ripe. To check if a fruit is ripe, press gently with your thumb. If the fruit gives slightly, similar to a ripe peach or mango, then the kiwi is ripe. Most varieties are peeled and eaten out of hand or sliced, diced, or pureed. To peel a kiwi, slice off the ends. Use a spoon and slide it between the skin and the flesh, working it around the fruit to separate the skin. Slide the peeled kiwi out and use in your favorite recipe or eat as is.
What Does Kiwifruit Taste Like?
Kiwi is a sweet and lightly acidic fruit, somewhere between a strawberry and ripe pineapple. Unripe kiwis are tarter and more firm than ripe kiwifruit. The peel is thin and fuzzy, and the interior is tender, similar to a ripe peach but with tiny black seeds. The seeds are edible and provide a bit of crunchy texture to the smooth flesh.
Kiwi commonly appears in fruit salads, atop fruit tarts, and in cocktails and smoothies. Similar to pineapple, kiwifruit does not work well with gelatins due to an enzyme that breaks down collagen. However, this same enzyme also makes it a natural tenderizer for meat. Use kiwi to add fresh sweetness to any number of dishes.
Where to Buy Kiwifruit
Kiwi can be found in supermarkets year-round, thanks to the fruit being cultivated in the northern and southern hemispheres. The fruit is sold individually and in packages per pound. When looking for locally grown kiwis, keep an eye out during late fall and early winter. American fruit is mostly grown in California, with the majority of kiwi cultivation occurring in China and New Zealand. Look for firm (but not rock-hard) fruit without soft spots, blemishes, or mold.
Kiwi plants are also easy to grow in regions with mild winters. Choose a variety that will grow best in your home climate and train the vine on a fence or arbor since it needs room to grow.
How to Store Kiwifruit
Kiwifruit is best stored at room temperature for up to a week away from ethylene-producing fruits—unless you want to ripen them quickly. The fruit continues to ripen after being picked, and the process can be sped up by placing kiwis in a paper bag with an apple or banana. Kiwi should be eaten as soon as it ripens and before it turns mushy.
Cut kiwifruit can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. Kiwi puree can be frozen for up to three months.
Nutrition and Benefits
Kiwifruit is low in fat and calories and has no cholesterol. It's loaded with vitamin C (112 percent of the recommended daily value per 100 grams), potassium, and fiber, making it one of nature's tastiest superfoods.
The most common type of kiwifruit available in supermarkets is a variety called Hayward. The fruit is about the size of a large egg with a green interior and a brown, furry peel. Golden kiwi is a similar size to standard green varieties but has smoother skin, a light yellow interior, and a slightly sweeter and less acidic flavor. This variety tends to cost more and sometimes appears in stores and specialty markets. There are also mini varieties that are about the size of grapes and can be eaten skin and all. One mini kiwi has a smooth green exterior and is called a kiwi berry. Other varieties are grown in various parts of the world with a range of sizes and sweetness but are not commonly available in stores.