Fresh fruit can be so disappointing! In season, and preferable local, fresh fruit is usually wonderful — flavorful and juicy, with a nice texture. Out of season fresh fruit is another matter. It’s bred to withstand long distance shipping and longterm storage. It never gets ripe, there’s no flavor, the texture borders on weird — sort of spongy and disagreeable.
I know, bananas are pretty consistent, but I’m not a fan of bananas. Raspberries are usually in decent shape, but they’re extremely pricey and can spoil quickly. Desperate for some fresh fruit, I bought a cantaloupe melon recently. According to the “Product of...” label, the melon had clearly been shipped a long distance. After sitting around on my kitchen counter for several days, it failed to ripen. I gave up waiting and cut into it. The color was nice, but the ‘off’ taste and spongy texture made it inedible. A big waste of money. What to do? What about kiwis? Or rather, kiwifruit.
We don’t eat “Kiwis”
Kiwifruit is the correct term for the fuzzy oblong fruits with the bright green color inside. “Kiwi” is used to refer to New Zealanders. We don’t eat those.
Based on that nickname, you’d think kiwifruit is native to New Zealand. In fact, these fruits originated in China and have been consumed there for centuries. Cultivation of kiwifruit only spread to New Zealand in the early 20th century. It’s the biggest agricultural export of New Zealand, which may explain the “Kiwi” nickname.
Until summer fruits are in season, kiwifruit is on my grocery list. They’re actually a great choice.
- One fruit is one serving, so no leftovers to store.
- They keep well, and ripen slowly.
- Relatively inexpensive. I bought a package of 10, and the average cost was 50¢ each.
- Refreshing slightly tart, not overly sweet flavor.
- Easy to peel. Although apparently the skin is edible, but not my thing. Another plus: peeling doesn’t make a big mess.
- Nutrients: one average kiwifruit (maybe 82-84 grams unpeeled, 67-70 peeled weight) packs some nutritional punch in a modest 45 calorie package:
- 65 mg vitamin C
- 2 grams fiber
- 28 mcg vitamin K
- 220 mg potassium
- Green kiwifruit also has significant content of the antioxidants lutein/zeaxanthin.
I’m all for simplicity, so peel and eat is my motto. Kiwifruit doesn’t need any flavor enhancements like sweeteners. You can add them to smoothies or fruit salads, or use as a garnish for yogurt or pancakes, or to decorate desserts like cakes or fresh fruit tarts.
Kiwifruit really doesn’t cook well, although there are recipes that use them like bananas in quick breads. There are plenty of ideas on the internet, such as Kiwi Cucumber Salad and Kiwi Avocado Salsa. One word of caution: kiwifruit contains the natural enzyme actinidain. This enzyme breaks down proteins, so combining raw kiwi with milk, soy milk or yogurt may cause the proteins to coagulate. This enzyme, which is present in other fruit like pineapple, may act as a digestive aid.
Fresh fruit not a lost cause
Sometimes you just get in habits at the grocery store. Buy the same vegetables and fruits over and over again. Once I had kiwifruit in mind, I had to poke around to find any. Being a medium brown smallish fruit, they’re not highly visible. Plus they were packaged in a plastic container. But success. Until wonderful in-season fresh fruit is available, kiwifruit will be on my grocery list.