It will surprise many to hear that kiwifruit, the cheeky little super fruit that’s one of New Zealand’s top exports, actually has its origins in China, and that’s why it’s still sometimes known as the ‘Chinese gooseberry’. Meanwhile, kiwis are adorable, small, brown birds – long beaked and flightless – that are native to New Zealand and that have developed national symbol status. In the early sixties, growers began using the catchy name kiwifruit (also small, fuzzy and brown) for the export market, and the name stuck.
Nowadays, various varieties of the kiwifruit (or kiwi) have been cultivated and the fruit has become an important commercial crop in China, Italy, Chile and several other European countries; on the home front, gardeners now have the pleasure of growing their own. The kiwi is a climacteric fruit (i.e. it continues to ripen after harvest), which means that whilst harvesting in the northern hemisphere generally takes place at the end of October/beginning of November, the fruits will not be ripe and ready to eat until about 3 or 4 weeks later. It’s a fruit that’s available in supermarkets all year round, and has long been considered to be a ‘tropical’ fruit.
The kiwifruit is very versatile in the kitchen: it tastes great in fruit salads, in shakes, as a fruit purée, and in cakes. If you want to eat fresh kiwifruit, pure and simple, just cut one in half through the middle and spoon out the two halves. Alternatively, you can peel them and cut them into slices. Kiwis combine brilliantly with other fruits in a fruit salad or in a healthy smoothie.
Kiwis store very well in both the fridge and freezer. They can be kept for up to 40 days in a refrigerator compartment, and up to twice as long in a BioFresh compartment (that’s up to 80 days, depending on their ripeness level). Note: bruising affects their storage life. Kiwis can also be stored frozen for up to 12 months; however, kiwifruit contain a lot of water and whilst they taste absolutely fine once thawed, the fruit does lose its firm consistency. It’s therefore a great idea to freeze kiwi in a purée form; after defrosting, it can be used with versatility as a fruit compote, e.g. for making smoothies, cocktails, jam or dessert toppings.
Kiwifruit contain lots of vitamins and have a delicious sweet-and-sour taste. They contain considerably more vitamin C than many of the fruits that we are more familiar with, e.g. oranges and lemons – one large kiwi alone can meet your daily vitamin C requirement. In addition, kiwis also boast a high vitamin E content (twice as much as an avocado, for example) and contain lots of minerals such as, potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus. They are nutrient dense and extremely low in calories!
Thanks to their high vitamin content, kiwis are believed to help strengthen the immune system, speed up metabolism, and stimulate muscle activity, in particular the muscles of the heart. Kiwis are also thought to be good for diabetics. An Italian study has demonstrated that diabetics who regularly take on board high doses of vitamin C show lower cholesterol values and have lowered insulin levels. Kiwis therefore make sense for diabetics, but only along with the correct calculation of bread units.
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