The kiwifruit was introduced to New Zealand in 1906, but it’s actually a native of China’s Yangtze Valley where it still grows wild today. The fruit was first called Chinese gooseberries, but when the export market began to grow after World War II, it was renamed kiwifruit to honor the kiwi, New Zealand's national bird. New Zealand supplies 99% of the world production of kiwifruit, but it’s also grown extensively in the US, South Africa and Europe.
The kiwifruit you’re most likely to encounter in the US is the Hayward variety. Its nondescript, hairy brown exterior hides brilliant emerald-green flesh speckled with tiny, edible black seeds. The fruit is lusciously juicy, with an elusive, complex flavor that hints of strawberry, melon and pineapple.
Kiwifruit is most often eaten out of hand as a snack or used to garnish salads and desserts. In the heyday of "nouvelle" cuisine, kiwifruit was the darling of many chefs who paired it with all manner of meats and fish, often with dubious results. Fortunately, that craze has passed into history. The kiwi's thin skin is actually edible — full of nutrients and fiber — though most often the fruit is peeled for aesthetic reasons.
Why choose organic kiwifruit?
Choose organic whenever you can to help keep the residues of conventional agricultural pesticides and fertilizers out of your food. Organic produce is grown without toxic synthetic pesticides and fertilizers, using sustainable farming methods that protect the environment and help keep pesticides out of our soil, air, water and food supply. Organic food is the healthiest choice for people and the planet — and we think it tastes better, too!
How to select and store kiwifruit
Choose plump, firm fruit with no signs of damage, mold or soft spots. When ripe, kiwis are fragrant and yield to gentle pressure. Hard, unripe kiwis are very tart; ripen them at room temperature in a paper bag that also contains an apple or banana.
Once ripe, refrigerate your kiwis for up to a week before using. If you have a surplus, purée the flesh and freeze it in small, airtight containers for up to 1 month.
Tips for using kiwifruit
Kiwifruit purée is delicious for dessert sauces, marinades or fruit smoothies.
For cooking purposes, kiwifruit can be problematic when combined with gelatin or dairy products. Kiwis contain an enzyme called actinidin, which curdles milk and prevents gelatin from setting. You can cook raw kiwis briefly to deactivate the enzyme — that’s a handy thing to know if you're thinking of substituting kiwi for another fruit in ice cream or a frozen soufflé!
On the plus side, actinidin breaks down protein, making kiwifruit a great tenderizer for less-expensive cuts of meat or tough seafood like octopus or squid.