On the outside, a kiwi fruit looks like a
fuzzy brown egg, appropriate, since it is named after a fuzzy
flightless brown bird. Once considered an exotic specialty,
kiwi fruit has become immensely popular during the past two
decades, and deservedly so. When you cut (or bite) through its
thin brown skin, which is covered with a downy fuzz, you reach
velvety bright green flesh sprinkled with a ring of tiny, edible
black seeds. The taste of kiwi fruit, which varies from sweet
to tart, has been compared with a combination of other fruits,
such as strawberries, nectarines, and melons. Kiwi fruit blends
well with other fruits and makes a striking garnish, but it
is also highly satisfying (and nutritious) eaten on its own.
gram for , it is higher in vitamin C than most fruits and is
a good source of potassium.
The kiwi fruit was a much appreciated treat
in ancient China, and was introduced into New Zealand in 1906,
where it was called the "Chinese gooseberry" (although
it isn't related to the green gooseberry). Years later, as foreign
demand for the fruit increased, New Zealanders renamed it after
their national symbol, the kiwi bird. Today, kiwi fruit is also
a commercial crop in California. New Zealand and California
have opposite growing seasons; consequently, a year-round supply
is available. (The fruit keeps well for up to 10 months in cold
storage, allowing it to be brought to market for several months
after it is harvested.) Both New Zealand and California produce
one principal variety, the Hayward.
For the sweetest, fullest flavour, choose plump, fragrant kiwi
fruit that yield to gentle pressure, like ripe peaches. Unripe
fruit has a hard core and a tart, astringent taste. If only
firm kiwis are available, ripen them for a few days before eating
them. Reject shriveled or mushy fruits, or those with bruises
or wet spots.
To ripen firm kiwis, leave them at room temperature, but away
from heat or direct sunlight, for a few days to a week. Hasten
ripening by placing them in a paper bag with an apple, pear,
or banana. Once a kiwi fruit is ripe, however, store it far
from other fruits, as it is very sensitive to the ethylene gas
they emit, and tends to over ripen even in the refrigerator.
Ripe kiwis should keep for about one to two weeks.
Kiwi fruit can be peeled with a vegetable peeler or sharp paring
knife. (Peeling is easier if the ends of the fruit are cut off
first.) To eat the fruit with a spoon, cut it in half crosswise
or lengthwise and scoop out the flesh. If the peachlike fuzz
is rubbed off, the fruit can be eaten skin and all.