I’m quite sure most of us have heard, seen and even tasted a kiwifruit, but did you know that it is considered an edible berry? And that it grows on a woody vine? The vine of Actinidia deliciosa to be exact.
This fuzzy little fruit used to be known as the Chinese Gooseberry, but some marketing whiz in the 1950’s decided that the name Kiwifruit would work better (owing to tensions surrounding the Cold War).
Kiwifruit has a high vitamin C content, higher than the orange. It is also a source of dietary fibre. Apart from the green fleshed kiwifruit, there is also a golden (yellow) version that is lower in acid.
Raw kiwifruit is rich in the protein-dissolving enzyme actinidin. This enzyme interferes with the setting process of gelatin which is why kiwifruit in jelly is a bad idea.
The enzyme also reacts with the proteins in dairy as I learnt through bitter experience (pun intended). Years and years ago (we’re talking couple of decades here kids), I was trying to make an unbaked kiwifruit cheesecake – yeah, gelatine AND dairy! Look, in my defence, there was no Google then ok? I ended up with a vile, bitter slurry! All that expensive cream cheese wasted (cream cheese was an exotic ingredient in tropical Malaysia). It was so pain-inducing I’ve never really tried to cook with kiwifruit ever again (except for this agar ).
Friends of mine swear by kiwifruit as a squid tenderiser though. They marinate the squid with diced kiwifruit and other seasonings before throwing it on the barbecue. Maybe this summer I’ll give that a go.
The kiwifruit seeds are also slightly bitter so care must be taken when pureeing the fruit. Cooking the kiwifruit first helps denature this dastardly enzyme. This site is a good place to get more kiwifruit cooking tips.
The enzyme in kiwifruit doesn’t just play havoc with certain foods – it can cause quite severe allergic reactions too, especially in children. Reactions range from a rash and swelling of the lips up to wheezing and collapse.
It’s not all bad news though. Apparently consuming kiwifruit may be good for your heart. The summary of this study can be found here.
We actually enjoy the sweet/tart flavour of fresh kiwifruit and our favourite way of eating it is to slice it in half and scoop it out. The mini-critics love using the custom spoon/knife that we were given many moons ago when we purchased some fruit. Those kiwifruit marketing people certainly have a few tricks up their sleeve!
I like the vivid green colour that it lends to fruit salads and fruit platters. Here’s a fun way to make use of the green. Skewer a slice of kiwifruit, then a nectarine (or mango), then a red fruit like strawberry, to make healthy “traffic light” snacks. The tangy flavour of kiwifruit also means it can work well with savoury food, like in the salsa below.
Christmassy Kiwifruit Salsa
(More of an idea than a recipe)
Here’s a simple one I threw together using about half a kiwifruit, five just -ripe cherries and a sliver of red onion. Dice everything finely, toss with a squeeze of lime juice and a tiny pinch of salt if desired. This went very well with cold turkey slices. I would have added some diced coriander too if I had any on hand. Make this up just before serving otherwise the colours will all bleed together.