History of Kiwi Fruits
You probably know them as kiwi fruits. However, this is not their original name.
These hairy looking fruits are actually known as Chinese gooseberries. Additionally, China is their place of origin.
How they ended up with a Māori moniker is actually interesting! Kiwi fruits found their way to New Zealand in early 20th Century.
This was after a high school principal brought the seeds from China. They were given to a local farmer who planted them. The first kiwi fruit harvest in New Zealand happened in 1910.
After this, cultivation gained momentum and soon exportation was inevitable. In order to export these fruits, the locals searched for a befitting name. This is because the term ‘gooseberry’ wasn’t that popular there. They settled for kiwi fruits, naming them after their national bird ‘kiwi’.
Nowadays, commercial kiwi fruit cultivation stretches from New Zealand to Italy to the U.S.A as well as China.
Description and Uses
Kiwis are true berries. The most common variety that you are familiar with is the Actinidia deliciosa. They belong to the family Actinidiaceae, which has numerous other varieties.
Kiwi fruits are oval and have a hairy brown skin. This peel is actually edible. Inside, you will find a juicy light green flesh with numerous black seeds as well as a white middle section.
They give off a tangy, sweet taste. Besides being enjoyed by hand, kiwi fruits are commonly used as meat tenderizers. This is due to their high acidity.
Similarly, there are plenty of ways you can enjoy them. These include:
- Fruit salads
- Jam making
- Baked products like cobblers, cakes and pies
- Savory dishes like grilled meat
- Making condiments like salsa and chutney
These tiny, furry bundles are actually loaded with nutrients.
You may be used to grabbing citrus fruits for your daily vitamin C. However, have you ever considered kiwis? Did you know that they contain more than double of your daily vitamin C requirements?
We all know how important vitamin C is – from boosting the immune system to promoting healthy tissue growth in skin, hair and cells to aiding in absorption of iron.
Apart from vitamin C, kiwis are also rich in the following:
Forget your morning bowl of bran cereal, kiwi fruits are excellent sources of fiber! Not only is fiber essential for promoting bowel movement, it creates satiety and aids in reducing cholesterol levels.
This essential vitamin is crucial in all developmental stages – fetus development, infancy and adolescence. It prevents neural birth defects by facilitating white and red blood cell production.
Potassium and Magnesium
These trace minerals play crucial roles in the body – from regulating intracellular fluids to protein synthesis to nerve function to energy release to heartbeat regulation to promoting bone health as well as mood stabilization.
Kiwi fruits are rich in carotenoids known as lutein. This element works similarly to vitamin A. It promotes eye health and is nicknamed “eye vitamin”! It works by filtering out light and protects eyes from sunlight damage. As such, lutein is effective in preventing macular degeneration and other eye conditions like cataracts.
Other than the above, kiwi fruits are low glycemic, thus are low carb foods. Additionally, they contain no fat – what a welcoming relief to all weight management enthusiasts!
Shelf life of Kiwi Fruits
Despite being nutritious powerhouses, kiwis are delicate and highly perishable. Their shelf life majorly depends on how you store and handle them.
When shopping for kiwi fruits, be on the lookout for bruises or cuts. Additionally, test for ripeness using your touch. Press them with your thumb – perfectly ripe kiwis give in to pressure.
Kiwis offer flexibility in terms of storage – you can use the counter, refrigerator or freezer.
The counter is appropriate for not so ripe kiwis – the ones you buy and wait a few days for them to ripen.
Fresh, ripe and whole kiwis keep well in the refrigerator. Clean and dry them first. Use plastic bags to refrigerate. At optimal temperature, they will last up to 6 weeks.
On the counter top or pantry, whole kiwis remain in good quality for up to 2 weeks.
On the other hand, sliced kiwis deteriorate quickly. Consume them on the same day. Alternatively, pack the slices in airtight containers, refrigerate and consume within 1 week.
A crucial point to note when storing kiwis is this: Ethylene-emitting foods like apples, tomatoes and bananas hasten ripening. To prolong the shelf life, avoid storing kiwis near them.
In order to maximize the shelf life of kiwis, certain preservation techniques come in handy. Check them out below:
You can creatively freeze kiwi fruits to prolong their shelf life. When freezing, do the following:
- Peel the skin. Never freeze whole fruits with peel on. The quality and texture will deteriorate after a short while.
- Slice, puree or leave them whole. Portion them into small batches that you will use once. Arrange on an airtight container.
- Prepare sugar syrup by boiling sugar in water – for every cup of water, use twice the amount of sugar. Once the syrup is cool enough, pour over the fruits, mix well and cover tightly.
- Use optimal freezing temperature of 0°.
Well frozen kiwis last up to 1 year.
Moisture extraction is a sure fire way of extending the shelf life. Dry kiwis preferably in the oven or food dehydrator. When dehydrating,
- Peel and slice evenly. This guarantees uniform dryness.
- Arrange the slices on a single layer for optimal heat penetration.
- Well dried kiwis should be leathery but pliable.
- Store in airtight containers.
Well dried kiwis are shelf stable.
Canning and Making Preserves like jelly, jam, marmalade and chutney
What better way to enjoy these furry fruits than making preserves? Break the monotony of using the usual oranges, pineapples or mangoes for preserves.
Kiwi fruits are a great alternative. Their tangy, acidic flavor is ideal for jams, jellies, marmalade or chutney.
Making preserves or canning is an easy D-I-Y project that you can undertake. Nonetheless,
- Exercise caution when measuring out the ingredients
- Use sterilized equipment
- Thoroughly cleaned fruits
- Use medium or small containers that can be consumed frequently
- Never leave the containers or cans opened.
- Store well sealed cans in the pantry, away from direct light and heat.
Well preserved kiwi fruits remain in good quality for up to 2 years.
Be on the lookout for the following indicators:
- Oozing of cloudy, watery stuff
- Visible mold growth
- Sunken, mushy flesh
- Dark spots on both the peel and green flesh.