Kiwifruit is a relative newcomer to the American fruit salad. Previously known as the Chinese gooseberry, it was first shipped to the United States in the early 1960s from New Zealand. Soon after, crafty marketers renamed the fabulous fruit after New Zealand’s national bird, the kiwi. Until then, much of the world had been unaware of the fruit, even though it had been growing in China for more than 700 years. But how do you eat this fuzzy, nutrition-packed fruit? It’s easy: Just bite in!
Kiwifruit, often referred to simply as kiwi, has tart and sweet flesh with flavors reminiscent of strawberry, banana, melon, pineapple and citrus. Yet this versatile fruit has a unique appearance and a distinctive flavor like no other. About the size of a large egg, its light green or gold flesh is covered in a thin, fuzzy skin. The whole fruit is edible, including the skin, tiny poppylike seeds and cream-colored core. Kiwifruit is available year-round, with the bulk of its production coming from the United States (specifically, California), New Zealand and France, though Italy, Japan and Chile are large producers, too.
Kiwifruit is nutritionally dense. It’s low in sodium and calories and high in potassium. When ripe, the kiwi contains the proteolytic enzyme actinidin, which aids digestion. Ounce for ounce, kiwifruit contains more vitamin C (a water-soluble antioxidant) than an orange. It’s also a good source for two of the most important fat-soluble antioxidants: vitamin E and vitamin A. This combination of both water- and fat-soluble antioxidants has been shown to improve cardiovascular health. In fact, a 2004 University of Oslo study shows that daily consumption of two to three kiwifruit has similar effects as the daily dosage of aspirin some physicians recommend to improve heart health.
- When buying kiwis, choose fruit free of bruises, soft spots, wrinkles and other signs of exterior damage.
- For best flavor, allow kiwifruit to soften (like avocados or pears) before eating. It ripens best when placed near fruits that produce ethylene gas, such as apples, pears and peaches. That’s a good thing if you want to speed ripening – and a bad thing if you want to extend storage time.
- Fully ripened kiwi can be kept for a week or more in the refrigerator. Hard kiwifruit can be stored in the refrigerator for up to two weeks, and then ripened at room temperature.
- To peel a kiwi whole, simply use a vegetable peeler, slicing toward the hard end where the kiwi was attached to the vine.
Kiwifruit can be prepared in many beautiful and delicious ways. As with all fruit, wash it before eating by rubbing it gently under cool water.
- Eat a kiwi whole, like an apple, or slice it into quarters, like an orange, and enjoy – skin and all!
- If you don’t like the skin, or if the fuzziness irritates your throat, cut the kiwifruit in half and use a small spoon to scoop out its tender flesh.
- Slice kiwifruit over salads just before serving.
- Kiwifruit complements most fruits and main dishes, but avoid mixing it with yogurt. The actinidin enzyme in kiwifruit dissolves milk proteins and gives the mixture an odd flavor.
- The same actinidin enzyme, however, makes kiwifruit ideal for tenderizing and seasoning meats. Just rub meat with kiwi flesh or place kiwi slices on top of meat for 10 to 15 minutes. Remove slices and wipe off excess juice and pulp before cooking.
- Peeled, sliced or diced, kiwifruit provides a tasty complement to cooked chicken and seafood dishes.
- Purée kiwi and use as a dessert sauce, in cocktails or non-alcoholic slushes, or to make delicious sorbets and popsicles.
Spinach, Kiwi and Strawberry Salad with Honey Dijon Vinaigrette
Presented by Chef Neff, Conscious Cuisine®
Makes 8 cups
This tasty salad can be paired with almost anything. Try it with a grilled chicken breast, sautéed sea bass, baked tofu or tempeh. 1 head of radicchio, cored, washed and leaves separated
6 cups cleaned, trimmed and dried spinach, packed
1 cup sliced 1/4-inch-thick strawberries
1 cup peeled, medium-diced kiwi
1 tbs. toasted sunflower seeds
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 tbs. rice vinegar
2 tbs. honey
2 tsp. Dijon mustard
1/3 cup enoki mushrooms
Salt and pepper to taste
Tear spinach into bite-size pieces and place in a salad bowl. Add strawberries, kiwi, sunflower seeds and onion.
In a separate bowl, whisk together vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over the spinach mixture and toss lightly.
Place one radicchio leaf on each plate. Arrange the spinach mixture in each radicchio cup. Garnish with enoki mushrooms.
Per Serving (1 cup):
Calories 60; Protein 2 g; Total Fat 1 g; Saturated Fat 0 g; Carbohydrates 12 g; Dietary Fiber 2 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 125 mg
Bulgur Wheat and Fruit Salad
Presented by Chef Neff, Conscious Cuisine®
Makes 4 1/2 cups
This quick, great-tasting salad pairs well with steamed asparagus and roast chicken, grilled vegetables and shrimp, or steamed halibut and spinach.
2 cups steamed bulgur wheat
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried blueberries
1/2 cup dried cherries
1 cup finely chopped red onion
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
A pinch of nutmeg
A pinch of allspice
1/4 cup fruit-infused rice wine vinegar
2 tsp. hazelnut or grape-seed oil
1/2 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 cup peeled, small-diced kiwi
In a mixing bowl, combine the bulgur, dried fruit, onion and parsley. In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining ingredients, except the kiwi, and toss with the bulgur. Fold freshly diced kiwi into the bulgur. Chill the salad for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Per Serving (1/2 cup):
Calories 160; Protein 3 g; Total Fat 1.5 g; Saturated Fat 0 g; Carbohydrates 35 g; Dietary Fiber 5 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 270 mg