Kiwi: The Good Fruit Guide View

The kiwi is a strange, rather uninviting looking fruit with it’s brown, tough exterior. However, on cutting, it has a startlingly attractive bright green or yellow interior in which tiny seeds are radiating with many fine, pale lines from the centre. With a delicate sweet-sour taste and interesting hints of melon and strawberry, the kiwi is delicious eaten fresh, and makes an attractive component of fruit salads, and many other dishes. The yellow kiwi is less tart and with more of a ‘tropical’ flavour than the more common green fruit.

The growing area of kiwi fruit, and the subsequent handling procedures in packing the fruit, have an influence on it’s eating quality, which can vary from sweet and delicious to rather sour and off-putting. We will try to point out the best, as a good kiwi is quite irresistible!

In addition to the well-known green Hayward kiwi, there are yellow and red-fleshed varieties and the KiwiBerry, a bite-sized, smooth-skinned version that is becoming popular as growers solve the short shelf-life issues.

Kiwi - Good Fruit Guide Market Update

April 2012:
The Kiwiberry is still occasionally available in stores from New Zealand and Chile (seen in Asda and Tesco): a delicious bite-sized, smooth-skinned fruit, ideal as a snack.

Otherwise, the choice of kiwi’s and their sources is pretty simple at the moment: it’s the green Hayward kiwi from Italy, either conventional or organic! You may find some Greek fruit, and M&S are selling French kiwi at the moment. What is the difference? Well, not a great deal, but it does depend on the retailer: the more careful of them will ensure the sweeter, more uniform fruit is on sale.

The Golden kiwi from Italy seems to have finished, and the similar Jingold kiwi also seems rare on shelves. Stocks are probably depleted, so we will have to await the southern hemisphere season (arrivals are normally in mid-May).

Remember to eat kiwis when they start to soften.

Kiwi - Directory of Varieties

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Gold

A yellow-fleshed Kiwi fruit. The Gold kiwi has a bronze skin, smoother than a Hayward green kiwi and one end is slightly pointed. The flavour is more noticeably ‘tropical’ and less tart than the green fruit, while the flesh is slightly softer. Origin: Gold kiwi fruit were bred in New Zealand, and released as a … Read More »

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Hayward

The Hayward kiwi is the main green variety produced for the world’s markets, and dominates production in most growing areas. It is moderately hairy and more round than other kiwi varieties, but has the best eating quality, mainly due to higher levels of sweetness. The skin is thin (and can be eaten without much discomfort!) … Read More »

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Jingold

A yellow-fleshed Kiwi fruit. The Jingold kiwi is very similar to the Gold kiwi, with a bronze skin, smoother than a Hayward green kiwi. The flavour is more noticeably ‘tropical’ and less tart than the green fruit, while the flesh is slightly softer. Origin: The yellow Jingold kiwi is the result of a long natural … Read More »

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KiwiBerry

The KiwiBerry is the fruit of the Hardy Kiwi, related to standard kiwi and looking similar in internal cross-section. The fruit is small, bite-sized and is completely hairless with a smooth green skin. Being sweet and flavoursome as well, it is the ideal fruit snack, with great potential as a rival to grapes and cherries. … Read More »

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Red

A new, red-fleshed cultivar.

Summer

An early season kiwi fruit, predominantly grown in Italy.

Summerkiwi

Summerkiwi™ is an early variety of green kiwi, similar in appearance to the common Hayward variety. Some maintain that flavour and sweetness of Summerkiwi™ is as good, if not superior to the later Hayward, with acids being slightly lower. Origin:  The variety was created in Faenza, Italy by Dal Pane Vivai. SUMMERKIWI™ is the trademark … Read More »

Tsechelidis (Megakiwi)

Uniform shape, larger size and higher vitamin C content: these are the differences between the new megakiwi variety and the standard Hayward kiwifruit. The average weight of the new variety is 170-180 gram per fruit compared with 100-115 grams for Hayward (as grown in Chile). The variety is also very uniform with high pack-out percentages … Read More »

Kiwi - How to Determine Quality

In Stores: Kiwi fruit don’t give you many clues on whether they are ripe or good to eat. So what to look for?

  • Early season fruit will take some time to ripen and may be a bit sharp:
    • Greek fruit in August and Italian fruit in September
    • New Zealand and Chilean fruit in March
  • Fruit with a slight ‘give’ to touch are nearer to being ready to eat.

At Home:

  • The fruit will ripen if left at room temperature in your fruit bowl:
    • Early season fruit will take longer to ripen (see above);
    • Late season fruit will soften more quickly:
      • Greek and Italian fruit in February-May;
      • New Zealand and Chilean fruit in September to November.
  • The best eating quality is when the fruit has noticeably softened, but still has some resistance to touch.
  • Fruit are most attractive to eat when there is no ‘crunch’ to the flesh.
  • Keep kiwi fruit in the fridge to slow ripening – they will keep for 2-3 weeks.

Quality Problems:

  • Sour fruit is an indication of immaturity: fruit harvested too early
  • Excess softness is caused by old or over-ripe fruit
  • Enlarged pale or white centre to the fruit can be visible which may detract from flavour: cause unknown

Kiwi - The Science

Description: These fruit are mostly round or elongated with short fuzzy brown hair grown on a climbing vine-like plant, though some are hairless or with a green smooth skin. All the edible fruit in the genus have a startling internal colouration and structure with a radial arrangement of the small black seeds. Internal colour varies from green to yellow, red or a mix of red and green.

Family: Actinidiae
Species: Actinidia deliciosa (green kiwi); Actinidia chinensis (golden kiwi); Actinidia arguta (hardy kiwi or Kiwiberry)

Storage: Kiwi fruit are reasonably robust fruit, but will ripen quickly if left at room temperature, particularly in the presence of ethylene-producing fruit. However, if harvested at the correct time, kept at 0-1oC and in an ethylene-free environment, they can be stored for at least 6 months without noticeable deterioration.

Nutrition: Kiwis are high in vitamin C and have almost as much potassium as a banana, weight-for-weight.

Allergy: According to the Food Standards Agency, there have been some complaints of allergic reactions to kiwi fruit. In adults, the allergy normally appears in people who are allergic to latex or birch pollen, because these contain similar allergens to kiwi fruit. In adults, the symptoms are normally quite mild, but in children the condition can be more serious and can occasionally cause anaphylaxis.

Origin: Julia Morton writes: ‘This interesting species is native to the provinces of Hupeh, Szechuan, Kiangsi and Fukien in the Yangtze Valley of northern China, and Zhejiang Province on the coast of eastern China where it was cultivated on a small scale at least 300 years ago’.

The fruit was known to the Chinese as Yang Tao (Strawberry Peach), to the Europeans as Chinese Gooseberry, and christened ‘Kiwi fruit’ in New Zealand, the country that really took it seriously and introduced it to the rest of the world. Introduced to New Zealand in 1906, it wasn’t until 1953 that commercial exports commenced, mainly to USA, Germany and Japan. In the UK, kiwi fruit were regarded as ‘queer gear’ until the 1990′s, but are now accepted as a regular part of the fruit bowl.

Grown in: Kiwi fruit are widely grown in warm temperate and Mediterranean zones. However, the main production countries are Italy, New Zealand, Chile, France, Greece and Japan, in order of volumes grown.

Other Websites

California Kiwifruit – Consumer site (California)

CRFG, Kiwifruit – General description from California

Enza, Kiwifruit – Consumer site (Enza, New Zealand)

Jingold - Yellow kiwi from China

Kiwi fruit – General description and detail by Julia Morton, Miami, 1987

Tip The Planet – Good, succinct detail on kiwi fruit

Zespri Kiwifruit – Consumer site (Zespri, New Zealand)

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