Time for another ode to food, and today we’ll be talking about the amazing kiwifruit, or, as we all know it, kiwi (because we wouldn’t confuse it with the flightless bird of the same name that sorta, kinda looks like it).
The kiwi is also called Chinese gooseberry, and it actually is a berry that comes from a woody vine of the Actinidia genus. The most common type of kiwi is Hayward, and it is roughly the size of an egg. A hairy egg, that is. Once you open it up, though, the magic happens.
The kiwifruit hails from north-central and easter China and only in the twentieth century did it spread to New Zealand, which is now closely associated with the name. The genus contains roughly sixty species, and most of them look the same; some of them are downright inedible while others are sex on a plate.
Kiwis are awesome because they survive in most temperate climates, which is what lands them on the supermarket shelves when the rest of the fruits are kind of gone or very greenhouse-y. They are grown and picked by hand, and the kiwi vines require pruning (just like grapes). What is also good for commercial production of kiwis is that if you take them down while immature, they will take a long time to ripen – which means very good news for transportation. Over seventy percent of all kiwis are produced in Italy, New Zealand, and Chile (in China, it has always been collected in the wild).
This little furry ball o’goodness contains about 46 calories per fruit, and a ton of vitamin C (112% of your daily value per 100 grams), as well as vitamin K, dietary fiber (good for digestion and cardiovascular health) and vitamin E. Kiwis are also a source of omega-3 fatty acids, and carotenoids (which are positively associated with visual acuity). Research has shown that kiwis are capable of protecting DNA in the nucleus of human cells from oxygen-related damage. Kiwis are also shown to protect one from asthma attacks and muscular degeneration.
The bad news? Kiwis are apparently pretty allergenic, accounting for 10% of all food allergic reactions in children. So be sure to stay on the safe side there and get yourself tested if you don’t know.
How do you eat them? I eat them raw (how predictable of me). Just cut it in half and spoon out the edible bit. Or peel it if you don’t mind getting your hands messy and sticky sweet. Sliced kiwis can be placed on various desserts, into salads, and made into alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.